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Belarus National Day

28 June 2018

Mr Alexander D. Sidoruk, Ambassador of Belarus in South Africa hosted a reception to celebrate Belarus National Day. The guest of honour was Mr Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism of South Africa.

To entertain guests the Embassy organized a performance of pupils of the "Lyavonikha" branch of the Russian Ballet Academy (Midrand, South Africa). The dancers performed with the repertoire of folk dances of Belarus: "Lyavonikha", "Yurachka", "Vyaskoviya gulni", "Belarusachka".

Having been asked where Belarus is in the world Ambassador Sidoruk drew comparisons of Belarus with a few countries that were represented at the reception.

Remarks by Ambassador Sidoruk

First of all, let me thank you all for having come here today! It’s a great honour and a great pleasure for me to receive all of you at the Embassy of Belarus, on a small piece of Belarusian land.
Special thanks I’d like to extend to my team. We are few, but we are strong. Thank you very much for the job done! My gratitude to the company BelAZ-Africa and personally to its director Mr. Dmitry Venchik, who is with us today. And of course very special words of gratitude to Madam Slou Akinguereeva, director of the Ballet Academy, and her dancers for a pleasant surprise, which they prepared for you!

During my 28-year diplomatic carrier hundred times I heard one widespread question: Where are you from? Belarus? Where is it? For many people abroad Belarus is still an unexplored land, a terra incognita.
I will take liberties with some comparisons. Please, do not take it too seriously.
Belarus is like…
… Canada. People in both countries adore ice hockey!
Belarus is like … Ireland. Both are often mistaken for being part of the bigger neighboring country. Both have been trying to preserve their native languages and both like potato, what you will have an opportunity to taste later on today.
Belarus is like … Singapore. The Asian country is known for its extremely clean and neat streets. The Belarusian capital Minsk and other cities are usually praised for that, too.
Belarus is like … Venezuela. Women’s beauty is the common thing there. Venezuelan contestants got Miss Universe crown 7 times. What concerns Belarusian girls, no contests are needed – beauty is everywhere in the country.
Belarus is like … the United Arab Emirates. The population of both countries is about nine and half million people.
Belarus is like … Tanzania. Both countries are ranked No.13 biggest countries on their continents.
Belarus is like … Italy. Our national cuisine has a dish, called smazhanka, that somewhat resembles the famous Italian pizza.
Belarus is like … Georgia. People in both countries are extremely hospitable and love receiving guests.
I can’t make comparisons with all countries represented here, sorry, but I have to make the last one, but not the least, and seriously now.
Belarus is like … Lithuania. The countries share a lot of common history, having been for more than 500 years in one state.

Actually, the first state on the territory of today’s Belarus was mentioned in chronicles of the ninth century. It was the Polatsk Principality, which dominated in the region up to the thirteenth century.
Then, it was The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus and Zhemoyt, a powerful state, which included the lands of today’s Belarus, Lithuania, northern regions of the Ukraine, as well as western parts of Russia, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Since the thirteenth century the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had been a serious player in the European politics up to the end of the sixteenth century, when its influence started to weaken because of a series of destructive wars, after which we had to unite together with the Kingdom of Poland in a federal state – The Commonwealth of Two Nations – to resist the external threats.
It was one of the most turbulent times in the Belarusian history. The State was being torn apart by internal strife and endless wars and, as a result, ceased its existence as an independent entity. Its territories at the end of eighteenth century were divided among the Austrian, Prussian and Russian empires.
Only at the end of the World War I, in March, 1918, after Brest-Litowsk Peace Treaty, Belarus got a chance to restore its independence and proclaimed a Belarusian People’s Republic, which managed to exist less than a year though, to become later a part of the Soviet Union for the next seventy years.
In July, 1944 Belarus was liberated from Nazi invaders in World War II. It’s a sacred day for all Belarusians. We lost at that war one third of our population, about three million people. And it is very symbolic that the 3rd of July later has become the National Independence Day.
The heroism, selflessness and sacrifice of the Belarusian people during the Second World War were widely recognized. That is why Belarus became a co-founder of the United Nations in 1945.
In July (25) 1990 the Parliament adopted a Declaration on the State Sovereignty, in a year (25.08.91) the Declaration became a Constitutional Law, finally proclaiming Republic of Belarus an independent state.
Since that time, a very tiny period in historical terms, Belarus has proved a success as a sovereign state, a state created for its people, responsible member of international community and sponsor of regional security.
Since that time Belarus has significantly increased its potential, turned itself into a modern industrially developed country. And we are proud of these achievements!
Ladies and gentlemen!
This year is very remarkable for many countries and on various occasions. For Belarus this year marks a centenary of restoration of its independence and proclamation of the Belarusian People’s Republic, for South Africa it marks a centenary of the birth of its greatest son – Nelson Madiba Mandela.
This year also marks an important date for Belarus – South Africa interaction – the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our states. But the history of our bilateral relations didn’t start 25 years ago. Belarus and South Africa are connected by decades of real friendship, roots of which go back to the times of the Soviet Union’s support in your struggle against apartheid.
This jubilee is a good occasion to evaluate our achievements and outline new spheres of cooperation.
Belarus and South Africa share common or similar approaches to many issues of the global and regional agenda. We cooperate effectively within such multilateral mechanisms, as the UN, we supported South Africa in its election as a non-permanent Security Council member and we congratulate you with this achievement!
In the last 25 years, we have managed to strengthen and multiply bond of friendship and cooperation, but today life sets new ambitious targets to advance our bilateral relations to a new level.
In order to attain this level we should invest our joint efforts in such promising areas as agro-industry, industrial development, and information-communication technologies. We should also successfully implement a number of cooperation projects, which we together with our South African partners have been working on now.
We should also stipulate further exchanges between educational, medical and scientific institutions, in culture and tourism, as important spheres in deepening cultural understanding and people-to-people contacts.
I am convinced that our joint efforts will definitely enable us to achieve impressive results for the benefit of our States, with a view to ensuring prosperity, security and sustainable development of our countries and our people.

Embassy of Belarus in South Africa

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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June 2018

 
 
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