Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has delivered his annual address to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly on Tuesday, 4 August. Below are some excerpts from his speech.
“This is what they now call the unique way of Belarus, and today all countries admit that we did the right thing. But how much pressure was there at the beginning, the WHO’s identical recommendations for all countries: immediate quarantine, curfew, border closures, shutdown of enterprises. As you see today, I could not agree to this.”
The president also thanked the Belarusians for not succumbing to mass panic, protecting the elderly, showing dedication in helping doctors by cooking free meals, making donations andvolunteering.
There is only one goal – to save the country.
“In this difficult situation, we did not close our enterprises, unlike the whole world. We sllocated half a billion rubles from the budget to those who especially needed state support. And this is in conditions when the budget received less than 1,5 billion rubles from the oil showdown with Russia. There is only one goal – to save the country, save jobs without losing income,” Lukashenko said.
“Let’s look realistically, the U.S. gross domestic product fell by 33% in the second quarter of this year, despite huge stimulus packages. The leading economy collapsed by a third. Germany’s GDP shrank by 12% and is now at the level of 2011.
It was thrown 10 years back. Spain is back to 2002 (minus 22%), and Italy was pushed back to the early 1990s (minus 17%).
Well, where do you think American, German and Russian investments will go under these conditions? Where will the money go? Of course, the money will be used to rebuild their own countries. Don’t be naive. Their money will stay home. No one can save us but us.”
On privatization of agricultural land
“Why do we need to repeat other people’s mistakes, create an illegal land market and raise criminals? For centuries, agriculture has been a traditional sphere of the economy for Belarus. It is a visiting card of our country.”
On salaries and reforms
The Belarusian leader also expressed his view on the appeal of alternative presidential candidates to revive the Constitution of 1994.
“This is a gift to criminals and criminal business. This is why the return to the wild 1990s is out of the question. (…) Those who stand behind these promises need chaos in the country to split and grab the state assets, enterprises and privatize them. They want to introduce private land ownership and deprive the nation of what it has always relied on and will rely on.”
He also stated that the average salary in Belarus will go up two times within the next five years. This goal is enviaged in the country’s road maps and state programs.
“Within the next five years the average salary in Belarus will go up two times. Neither five nor ten times. It will increase two times.”
“Government opponents repeat, like a mantra, that Belarusians are dying out, they don’t give birth. Let’s compare, for 30 years of independence, the population of neighboring Ukraine has decreased by 20% (minus 10 million people), Lithuania – by 25%, (almost minus 1 million), Latvia – by 30% (minus 800 thousand).
Population of Belarus has also decreased, but only by 8%. Our situation is due to the demographic gap of the mid-90s, the consequences of which we will see for another 20 years.”
The president also accused his opponents of involving young Belarusians into the political process by playing on feelings of justice and indifference of our young people.
“Focus is shifted from rational interpretation and understanding of the end goal towards emotional comprehension of individual events, pictures and videos in social networks. Things like ‘Don’t be a slave’, ‘We are people, not the little people’, ‘Don’t let them steal your vote”.
They are easy to remember, easy to pronounce. Once you hear it, you can repeat it for the masses. There is no need to think about it. But it is necessary to give it a thought.”
On more Russian militants
“Today I’ve received information about another militant group that has been edeployed to the south. Why do we have to run around in the woods trying to catch them when the harvest campaign is in full swing? Yet we will catch them all.”
Recall that on 29 July, 33 Russian mercenaries were arrested in the sanatorium near Minsk allegedly plotting to destabilize the country ahead of presidential election in August. The KGB security service said the detained men were members of the Wagner group.
On constitution and power
“I am not a saint, but are you, Belarusians, ready to give these powers and this Constitution to another person today?”
“A person you don’t know will come tomorrow and take this Constitution. What kind of policy will he pursue? Will you keep him from all-round privatization, from pushing the country to the left or right?” the head of state asked a question.
On independence and future
“Today we strongly hold the future in our hands. The future of our independent Belarus. We will not give the country away. Independence costs a lot. But it is worth saving and passing on to future generations.
Behind us is Belarus – clear and bight, honest and beautiful, hardworking, a bit naive and vulnerable. But it is ours, our beloved. And you don’t give away your beloved,” the Belarusian leader concluded.