Дата публикации

The Union state of Belarus and Russia should become a territory of mutual support

Investing in good neighborliness

Belarus and Russia are developing new forms of integration

Владимир Заломай

The complicated situation in the sphere of international relations dictates the need to build a new system of priorities. In particular, one of the main promising areas of further development today is the maximum use of the potential of the Belarus-Russia Union State. The expansion and strengthening of multifaceted bilateral cooperation will create a unique environment, a kind of mutual support zone, on the territory of which the state interests of our countries and, as a result, the interests of our business circles and ordinary citizens will play a dominant role.

An ambitious project to develop a fundamentally new practice of social investment within the framework of the integration processes of Belarus and Russia started recently in Grodno. We are talking about creating a system of interregional partnership, the peculiarity of which is that the objects for the investment of budgetary funds of both countries and the Union State will be determined not at a high administrative level, but in the filed: at the initiative of local governments and representatives of civil society. The new approach involves the creation of a fund that will finance specific programs on a grant basis.

The uniqueness of this technique is that funds are allocated immediately for the implementation of two approximately similar initiatives on the territory of Russia and Belarus. And only if participants from both countries can prove the validity of their proposals together. Thus, not only economic ties will be strengthened, but at the same time the issue of improving the level and quality of life in the regions will be resolved, as well as cultural and humanitarian ties between people and organizations of our countries will be strengthened.

It is planned that the program will be implemented in several priority areas. One of them is preserving and promoting cultural and historical heritage. There are different ways to achieve these goals — from reconstructing various historical sites to organizing research conferences. The next area is infrastructure development. It may include roads building, lighting installation, parking lots, etc. The development of youth initiatives involves financing the implementation of interesting ideas. In addition, it is proposed to ¬pay attention to the exchange of municipal management experience and the promotion of bilateral tourism.

The Grodno and Kaliningrad regions were the first to join the cooperation program. The new approach to cooperation has already been approved by local authorities. Once the basic program is developed, it will be offered for consideration to the leadership of both countries. Of course, the main goal of this cross-border cooperation should be aimed not so much at creating an alternative to the activities of public authorities, but rather at involving the public in the joint solution of regional problems, financial support for the energy of creation and strengthening good neighborly relations.

Serious preparatory work being implemented currently is aimed at creating a package of program documentation, the norms of which will equally correspond to the interests of both countries. At the legislative level, the symmetry of using the opening opportunities should be laid down. It is in legal equality that the main difference lies in the approaches to organizing cross-border cooperation between Belarus and Russia from the experience of implementing similar programs with the European Union, which participated in them exclusively on its own terms. A new approach to cooperation with our main eastern neighbor will be another step towards building a clear system of priorities for economic and humanitarian partnership.

Vladimir ZALOMAI, Head of Grodno Branch of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research