Valentina Matvienko: More profound Union State integration is an effective Russian-Belarusian response to modern challenges

Federation Council SpeakerValentina Matvienko discussed priority parliamentary cooperation tasks with Speaker of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus.

Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko discussed the prospects and priorities of parliamentary cooperation with Speaker of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus Natalya Kochanova. The head of the upper house of the Belarusian parliament is in Moscow on an official visit.

Valentina Matvienko and Natalya Kochanova noted the high level of relations between the presidents of both countries. “Belarus is Russia’s strategic ally and partner. The leaders of our countries set the agenda for expanding bilateral interaction,” the Federation Council Speaker said.

Natalya Kochanova added that both countries were united by partnership in all spheres and by friendly relations between their peoples. The Speaker of the Council of the Republic noted that the visit was taking place on the 30th anniversary of establishing bilateral diplomatic relations. “A correct and well-thought-out decision, made three decades ago, is now yielding results.”

The Federation Council Speaker drew special attention to progress in expanding bilateral cooperation. “The successes of our countries in building the Union State and creating a common socioeconomic, migration and defence space do not fit into the world outlook of the so-called collective West, which exerts unprecedented pressure in the hope of wrecking political and economic associations involving Russia and Belarus.” Valentina Matvienko believes that issues of overhauling intra-regional ties in the context of adapting to new geopolitical realities are quite topical.

Their conversation focused on another important issue, preparations for the 10th Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions, due to be held in June 2023 in Ufa, on the initiative of the Council of the Republic and the Federation Council. The sides agreed to sum up the results of the past decade and to fill the event with new ideas. Valentina Matvienko suggested establishing the forum’s permanent working bodies. “I am confident that this will raise the forum’s status in the system of the Union State.”

Valentina Matvienko noted the model cooperation between the Federation Council and the Council of the Republic. “We have established effective parliamentary dialogue.”

The sides discussed the joint work of members of parliament at international venues, primarily the EAEA, the CSTO, the CIS and the SCO. “We need to use such a resource of parliamentary diplomacy as joint statements on pressing issues more actively,” the Federation Council Speaker believes.

The meeting participants exchanged opinions on prospects for expanding the Memory Train cultural and educational project. Valentina Matvienko noted that from 2023 it will be implemented under the auspices of the Union State, and it will involve schoolchildren from the EAEU countries. “We have already sent appeals to the legislatures of Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan,” she said. The Federation Council Speaker hopes that in 2025 it will become possible to invite teenagers from all CIS countries for celebrations of the 80th anniversary of Victory.

“This is our history, and it is our sacred duty to pass on this history from generation to generation. Our countries have a future when young people are friends,” the Speaker of the Council of the Republic said.

The speakers of the upper houses of the Russian and Belarusian parliaments noted that our countries were united by long-time bonds of neighbourliness and by their glorious past. According to the Federation Council Speaker, it is important to jointly combat the falsification of history. “It is necessary to continue our joint work to preserve a common memory of our history.”

Valentina Matvienko and Natalya Kochanova signed an updated cooperation agreement between the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus to replace a similar 2012 document.

The Federation Council Speaker emphasised that the agreement formalised efforts to combat destructive pressure by the so-called collective West and readiness to promptly respond to unfriendly actions against our countries and violations of the norms of international law. “We agree that more profound integration within the framework of the Union State and the proactive implementation of the 28 union programmes are a key precondition for effectively responding to these challenges,” Valentina Matvienko said.

Natalya Kochanova noted the importance of providing more active parliamentary assistance to implementing union programmes, and she added that lawmakers should monitor their progress more closely.

While speaking with media representatives on the meeting’s results, the Federation Council Speaker called the talks substantive and timely, in the international economic and political context.

Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Yury Vorobyov, Co-Chair of the Russian Section of the Inter-Parliamentary Commission for Inter-Regional Cooperation of the Federation Council and the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Grigory Karasin, Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Federal Structure, Regional Policy, Local Government and Northern Affairs Andrei Shevchenko, and First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Irina Rukavishnikova, took part in the meeting.