Lukashenka meets with visiting St. Petersburg governor

Alyaksandr Lukashenka on October 25 received Valentina Matviyenko, governor of Russia’s St. Petersburg, Belapan reports.

St. Petersburg is interested in cooperation with Belarus in the construction, transport and manufacturing spheres, Ms. Matviyenko said at the meeting, according to government news sources.

She reportedly noted that owing to active housing construction in St. Petersburg, the city currently experiences an acute shortage of cement, that is why she said the city government would welcome Belarusian cement supplies. In addition, she suggested that Belarusian builders take part in the turnkey construction of schools, kindergartens and other social projects.

Mr. Lukashenka said that Belarus currently makes an active effort to increase the capacity of its building materials industry. “It is very beneficial to us to increase supplies of our products to Moscow and St. Petersburg,” he was quoted as saying. “These are very compact markets, convenient and accessible in terms of transportation.”

Ms. Matviyenko also said that St. Petersburg companies are ready to purchase large quantities of Belarusian road machinery and start the joint production of trolleybuses in the city, which would involve the Minsk Automobile Factory (MAZ) and St. Petersburg Polytechnic University.

The Belarusian leader and the St. Petersburg governor agreed on the need to increase the output of elevators in Mahilyow with a view to increasing their supplies to St. Petersburg. A joint enterprise may be established for this purpose.

Mr. Lukashenka suggested that Belarus and St. Petersburg should now outline large projects of cooperation in the production of competitive goods and services and their exportation to third countries. He expressed confidence that the establishment of a Belarusian sales and logistics center and a sales and service center of AAT Amkador (Minsk-based manufacturer of construction, agricultural and forestry equipment) would help supply Russia’s “second capital” with high-quality Belarusian products.

Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski expressed gratitude to St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko for her attention to the development of relations with Belarus and her favorable attitude to requests for land plots for Belarusian sales and logistics centers. They met at a session of the Council for Business Cooperation between Belarus and St. Petersburg, which was held in Minsk on Thursday. “The decisions that we’ll make today will help further increase cooperation,” he said.

Belarus is interested in increasing mutually beneficial cooperation with St. Petersburg in all areas, Mr. Sidorski said. “The Belarusians have a special attitude towards St. Petersburg and its residents considering our historic ties, which is proved by the dynamic development of relations in all areas,” Mr. Sidorski said, noting that trade between Belarus and St. Petersburg had almost doubled in past five years. According to him, trade grew by 26 percent in 2006 to 24 billion Russian rubles. In the first eight months of 2007, it totaled 18 billion Russian rubles, a 29-percent year-on-year increase. Mr. Sidorski said that this year’s trade is estimated to total 30 billion Russian rubles.

“Our intention to expand the sphere of cooperation with Belarus is very serious,” Ms. Matviyenko said. “We hope that joint plans for cooperation between Belarus and St. Petersburg will be implemented actively and efficiently.”

Ms. Matviyenko also expressed hope that the implementation of the 2006-08 cooperation program would “help us more confidently fulfill our fundamental task of improving the living standards of the Belarusians and the residents of St. Petersburg.”