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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A call for reason

NEWS from the top
From the official website of the president of the republic of Belarus

September 20, 2005
Lukashenka addresses Trade unions

The trade unions and the State have one aim: to improve people’s lives. This is what was emphasized by President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in his address at the 5th Congress of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus on September 20. He also underscored that the programme of building a strong and prosperous state meets the interests of our people.
“The social and political stability of our state, and thus the dynamics of our country’s development to a great extent depends on how constructive the position of trade unions would be.”
He called the present congress of the trade union federation an event in the life of the country, and not only for this largest public association.
“The trade unions have never opposed authorities, government and the president of Belarus,” Lukashenka underlined.

(Note: The second half of this blurb was from the UCPB. The following is Charter 97’s comment on the meeting)

Kozik’s Dictatorship
17:27, 20/09/2005

The fifth congress of the Federation of Trade unions of Belarus has unanimously elected Leanid Kozik the FTUB chairman. As Interfax correspondent informs, the only nomination had been put in, Leanid Kozik.
Addressing the congress, the newly elected chairman of the Federation promised “to work honestly and conscientiously, so that the power of the FTUB would grow, and the life of the Belarusians and members of the trade improved, so that I would not be ashamed at the next meeting with you”.
It is easy to imagine that the end of Kozik’s grateful speech was accompanied by “heavy, prolonged applause”. Now Kozik’s position in the Federation of the Trade Unions can be compared with the position of Lukashenka in Belarus.

More from the president's official calendar…

President of the Republic of Belarus has conferred the Order of Mother on many child mothers of this republic.

The Order of Mother has been conferred on the housewife at the village of Svirduni, Postavy district, Kristina Petkevich; the educator at the kindergarten-day nursery No 3 in Vitebsk Tatiana Andreyeva; controller at the Lida shoe factory Yelena Bakunovich; teacher of the national liberal arts high school in Mogilev Irina Khlimantsova; and other many child mothers who have given birth and reared five or more children each.

And yet more news from the president's desk...

-By his Decree the Head of the Belarusian State has approved the signing of the Additional Protocol to the safeguards agreement between Belarus and IAEA in connection with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

-The Head of State Meets with First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRYU) Mikhail Orda.

-The President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko met with the first secretary of the central committee of the NGO “Belarusian Republican Youth Union” Mikhail Orda to receive his report. The President was informed of the preparations under way for the holding of the 39th BRYU Congress which is due to open in Minsk on September 23. The discussion also focused on the upcoming festive celebrations dedicated to the 85th anniversary of Belarus’ Komsomol (Youth Communist League).
Alexander Lukashenko accentuated the need for developing student scientific research activities and directed the BRYU leaders to thoroughly elaborate this issue. (Note: the BRYU is often refered to here as "Lukamol")


Two issues from Charter 97
Lower chamber advised to ratify customs accord with Libya
16:54, 20/09/2005

The House of Representatives international committee in the Belarusian National Assembly on September 19 advised the lower chamber to ratify an agreement with Libya on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters.
Signed in Minsk in December 2004, the accord aims to promote cooperation between the customs authorities in fighting smuggling and applying customs rates, said Vladimir Goshin, deputy chairman of the State Customs Committee.
The accord provides for exchanges of information, equipment, experts and skills, he added. It specifies the procedure of supplying information for preventing and investigating crimes.
Belarus` trade with Libya boils down to occasional shipments of trucks and dual-purpose products, Mr. Goshin said.
Belarus has similar accords with the Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and the CIS countries.

Justice Ministry Demands Registration of Coalitions, Blocks, Civil Initiatives and Movements
11:59, 20/09/2005

Justice Ministry of Belarus Viktar Halavanau has issued a decree on obligatory registration of blocs of political parties, trade unions, coalitions, civil initiatives and movements. Aiming at taking all associations and initiatives of citizens under total control, the authorities violate the right of people for freedom of association and meetings. “Associations of citizens possess features inherent to public associations pursue political goals. Activities of such associations can be carried out only after their state registration and entering information about them into the State Register of public associations,” the decree reads.


Belarus president says GDP to grow 50% in 5 years
15:40 | 20/ 09/ 2005

MINSK, September 20 (RIA Novosti, Olesya Luchaninova) - Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday that the country's GDP would grow 50% in the next five years.
"We plan to increase GDP by 50%, to bring average wages to $500 [per month] and halve the poverty rate," Lukashenko told a session of the Belarussian trade union federation.
GDP is expected to increase 11% in 2005 against last year and average public sector wages will reach $250 per month.
Lukashenko said improving rural living conditions was the most difficult issue to resolve in the next five years, but plans to do so focus on higher agricultural

Russia, Belarus join forces to fight terrorism
15:36 | 15/ 09/ 2005

MOSCOW, September 15 (RIA Novosti) - Special forces from the interior ministries of Russia and Belarus are holding joint antiterrorist exercises in the western Russian city of Smolensk, a Russian ministry spokesman said Thursday.
"The exercises, observed by Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev and his CIS counterparts, are taking place in three stages," the spokesman said.
He said the scenario would have the officers release hostages from inside the building seized by terrorists. The terrorists would then be dealt with before the troops went after the remaining terrorists in the area.
The exercises involve the Russian units Rus, Vityaz, Peresvet, Rys, the Smolensk region special police forces and Belarusian Almaz and Interior Ministry troops.
Officers from the Cobra Austrian anti-terrorist unit are observing the exercises.

Headlines From Swiss INFO:

The EU wants the summit to agree on setting up a U.N. human rights council to replace the current Human Rights Commission, an idea rejected by Cuba, Russia, Pakistan, Belarus and others.
Full Text

Belarus attends `Armenia EXPO 2005' trade show in Yerevan

By Katia M. Peltekian Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005 09:22:42 -0700 (PDT)

The national stand of Belarus is exhibited at the 5th regional
universal `Armenia 2005' trade show in Yerevan September 14-17.

The embassy of Armenia in Belarus told BelTA that the trade show is
organized by the ministry of trade and economic development and
foreign ministry of Armenia, by the union of industrial workers and
entrepreneurs, and exhibition company LOGOS EXPO Center. More than
180 leading Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian and Iranian firms are
taking part in the show. The Belarusian goods have been exhibited at the show for the recent three years.

The Belarusian stand presents materials and exhibits of the
Belarusian economy captains (MTZ, MAZ, Horizont, Vityas, Atlant,
BelOMO, Mogotex), other companies of machine building, woodworking,
food and petrochemical branches. The Belarusian party presents its
new products in demand on the Armenian market.
Full Text

Also, please click HERE for the homepage for "Industrial Armenia EXPO 2005"

And, from Armenia Diespopra
Days Of Culture Of Belarus To Be Held In Armenia From September 30 To October 3, 2005

Yerevan, September 20. /Arka/. From September 30 to October 3, 2005 Days of Culture of the Republic of Belarus will be held in Armenia, according to the Press Service of the Belarus Embassy in the RA. According to the press release, Days of Culture of the Republic of Belarus in Armenia will give opportunity to Armenians to join to the national Belarus culture, and will be a stimulus for further development of Armenian-Belarus cooperation.

The official opening of Days of Culture of the Republic of Belarus in Armenia will take place on September 30 in the National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet after Spendiaryan. The same day an exhibition of Belarus icons and national suits will be launched in the National Pictures Gallery. In the framework of the program Days of Belarus Film in "Moscow" movie theatre are expected. Four films will be shown to the Armenian audience: "Anastasia Slutskaya", "Dunechka", "Little Runaways" and "Deep stream". Belarus creative collectives will give performances in the regional centers of the republic, Artashat and Gyumri, during the Days of Culture of Belarus.

Special: Simon Wiesenthal, famed Nazi hunter dies in Vienna
From the Belarus Globe and Turkish

Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who died in Vienna aged 96, was lauded across the world as a "tenacious" fighter who kept alive the cause of justice for victims of the Holocaust.A Holocaust survivor who lost scores of relatives to the World War II Nazi death camps, Wiesenthal was remembered as a man who pursued the perpetrators to all corners of the globe with an unrelenting tenacity.
"He was the conscience of the world," Aver Shalev, the director of Israel's Holocaust memorial, said in Jerusalem.
"The Jewish people and all of humanity owe a lot to him because he acted systematically and very strongly ... He will be remembered as a symbol for the Jewish and human conscience, the need to protect moral values."
Full Text

Also, from Swiss Info:

Israel cites growing ties with Arab, Muslim world

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - An "iron wall" between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world is coming down, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, citing growing ties after Israel's Gaza pullout.
Shalom said he had met with more than 10 Arab or Muslim colleagues while in New York, "a number unthinkable even two years ago."

"These meetings have been friendly, as befits meetings between countries which have no conflict -- neither over territory, nor economy," Shalom told the 191-member assembly.

Israel completed a withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip on September 12 after 38 years of military rule. The pullout has raised hopes of progress in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking stalled by five years of violence.

"These are optimistic times in the Middle East. The iron wall that has defined Israel's relations with most of the Arab and Muslim world for generations is coming down," Shalom said.
Full Text


I got accused the other day of “agreeing with everybody” insofar as what seems to be my editorial policy for this page. Probably this opinion is based upon my printing articles on this page from both pro Lukashenka factions as well as those against which of course is a most waffling, weak and wishy-washy thing according to “modern-think”. But perhaps the accusation would be better stated that I am “listening to everybody.”
Who is to say that allowing oneself to hear opposing sides of an argument indicates weakness or foolishness? It has always been my personal opinion that decisions are best made only after a situation is clearly understood. And of course, that the more viable facets of a study one considers the more complete the solution.
Or in other words, do we as humans demand that the world be ruled only by power, the law of the jungle and social Darwinism, or would we prefer a more subtle and reasonable approach to our self governance? Would you prefer for your leadership a politician who completely forgets your particular constituency because you are not on their agenda or one who considers your needs even if you are not particularly favored? The difference is of course simple “reasonableness”.
I think that this is not only an important universal question for the whole of our world, but also one that needs specifically to be addressed by the western press in regards to Belarus. There is an entire country here struggling to get by and other than "brain-draining" away Belarus' greatest and brightest, perhaps it might also be possible to appreciate the culture for what it is. This is not to say that I am in complete agreement with Alexander Lukashenka and his tunnelvision approach to the presidency, I am most certainly not, by I am absolutely against intolerance, prejudice and hate in any form.
As a case in point, I had considered running a story by Peter Savodnik from The Slate’ entitled: The Lonely Life of the Visiting Dictator: How will Belarus' president spend his time in New York? Probably I thought about this because I liked the title.
But once I read the text I was rather appalled at how insulting and hateful the rhetoric was. I found it to be childish actually. But as you can see, it is here. You can look for yourself.
I think that the main difference between adults and children is that adults (supposedly) know their responsibilities and children do not. And of course, the more wide ranging your understanding of said responsibilities, the better the human being, the better the adult you are.
Of course I hate to have my time wasted as much as anyone, but in the matter of important decision making, I must be allowed and willing to hear the argument from the other side. It is essential. And this is my point. And what is more, I not only think it applies to the BEING HAD Times editorial policy, I think this should apply to the press in general, to our leaders, our judges and of course, to all of us supposedly adult human beings.