Belarus

Republic Unitary Enterprise National Aircompany "Belavia", operating as Belavia Belarusian Airlines is the national airline company of Belarus, headquartered in Minsk. The state-owned company is the Belarussian flag carrier. Belavia serves routes between European cities and the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as Middle East.

Geography

The Republic of Belarus is situated in the central part of Europe. The length of the state border is over 3,500 km. In the north-west Belarus borders on Lithuania, on Latvia in the north, on Russia in the north-east and east, on Ukraine in the south and on Poland in the west. Belarus occupies the territory of 207,600 square kilometres. The capital of Belarus is Hero City Minsk.
Numerous transit routes cross the country to connect Russia with Eastern and Western European countries, Ukraine and Moldova with the Baltic states and with the north-western parts of Russia.

History

The earliest political entities on the territory of Belarus date back to the 6th-9th centuries. They emerged largely due to the settling of the Slavs. The latter fully assimilated the Balts who had inhabited those lands before. The mixing of the cultures gave rise to such tribal unions as the Krivichi (the 9th century) and Dregovichi (948). Those tribes established the earliest states on the territory of Belarus – the principalities of Polotsk and Turov, which were inextricably intertwined with the history of the Kievan Rus. [read more...]

Minsk in the early XX century. Governor Street Vilnya Terminal in Minsk. 1916 MInsk Lenin Street 1944
Minsk in the early XX century. Governor Street Vilnya Terminal in Minsk. 1916 Minsk. Lenin Street in 1944

 

Natural environment

The Republic of Belarus is situated in the East-European Plain. The country rises 160 m above the sea level on average. Plains dominate the landscape of Belarus. The typical Belarusian landscape features uplands, plains and lowlands interlaced with swamps and lakes. Lowlands occupy 70% of the country’s territory.

Belarus lies in middle latitudes and relatively far from the oceans. The fact accounts for the country’s climate, which is moderately continental and demonstrates a transition from maritime to continental. Winter in Belarus is mild and wet, summer is warm, autumn is wet. Belarus lies in the sufficient moistening region. The average annual precipitation stands at 600–700 mm and over.

Lake Naroch in spring Meadow flowers
Lake Naroch in spring European bisons in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha Meadow flowers

Belarus has around 20,800 rivers and streams which flow to the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. The aggregate length of rivers and streams in Belarus totals 90,600 km. The biggest rivers in Belarus are the Dnieper (its tributaries are the rivers Pripyat, Sozh, and Berezina), Western Dvina and Neman (its tributary is the Vilia River). [read more...]

Economy and Finance

Today Belarus demonstrates sustainable economic growth and financial stability. The economic growth rate has placed Belarus to the seventh position in the world.

Belarus ranks seven in terms of economic growth rate in the world.

Two international rating agencies at once – Standard&Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service – awarded a sovereign credit rating to Belarus. Standard&Poor’s awarded Belarus “B+” long-term foreign currency credit rating, “B” short-term foreign currency credit rating, “BB” long-term national currency credit rating, “B” short-term national currency credit rating. Moody’s awarded similar ratings.

Conclusions made by foreign experts point out Belarus’ significant economic growth, low foreign debt, falling inflation, highly qualified manpower, state of the art companies and insignificant degree of social inequality.

Belarus exports over half of the output (54.4%). In 2007 Belarus exported products to more than 140 countries, trading with over 175 countries. Over the first five months of the year commodity export increased by 60.8%. [read more...]

Free Economic Zones

There are six free economic zones (FEZ) in Belarus, namely, Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel-Raton, Grodnoinvest, Minsk, Mogilev. Thus, every region of Belarus has a free economic zone, an efficient tool of economic management promoting development of certain areas by attraction of foreign investments and introduction of advanced technologies.

Free economic zones offer their residing companies tax preferences, i.e. fewer taxes and tax reductions. In terms of customs dues and tax payments FEZ can be considered a free customs zone.

Belarus has established a unified legal (tax and customs) regime for all free economic zones. Economic entities are held accountable for violations of the terms and conditions of operating in the zones. In addition, this special legal regime is applied to the products of FEZ residing companies deemed for export or if they are on the import-substitution goods list adopted by the President of the Republic of Belarus.
Foreign or Belarus-made goods imported to a free economic zone are exempt from taxes and customs dues except for paperwork fees. Goods imported from a free customs zone to the customs territory of the Republic of Belarus, are subject for taxation depending on the country of the origin.
Goods made by FEZ residing companies are exempt from export dues and taxes except for paperwork fees. As for goods made outside free economic zones the export taxes and dues are paid in accordance with the tax legislation of the Republic of Belarus.
Both national and foreign currencies are accepted for settlement within free economic zones in accordance with the rules and regulations endorsed by the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus.
Foreign investors operating in FEZ enjoy investment protection guaranteed by the state. The state guarantees foreign investors the right to reimbursement of their share of a company’s property in accordance with its residual value as well as due revenues, including foreign currency revenues, generated from their investments in the Republic of Belarus.

As of January 1, 2008 FEZ residing companies (except for banks) accumulated $288.7 million of foreign investments, of them 20.9% were investments to statutory capital.

FEZs Brest and Minsk are leading among other free economic zones in the volume of investments attracted – $101.5 million and $88.7 million respectively. They are followed by Gomel-Raton with $31.9 million investments, Mogilev with $22.9 million, Vitebsk and Grodnoinvest with $24.1 million and $19.6 million respectively.

In 2007 FEZ commodity export totalled $998.7 million.

As of January 1, 2008 there were 260 FEZ residing companies registered, of them 246 were active.

President

Alexander LukashenkoThe Head of State ensures continuity and interaction of the bodies of state administration, maintains intermediation among them. The President has the right of legislative initiative. The President issues decrees, edicts and instructions that have binding force in the entire territory of the Republic of Belarus. Under the Constitution, all the laws to be adopted must be signed by the Head of State. The President also resolves the issues with regard to the granting of the citizenship of the Republic of Belarus, the termination thereof and granting of asylum on the territory of Belarus. Any citizen of the Republic of Belarus by birth at least 35 years of age who is eligible to vote and has been resident in the Republic of Belarus for at least ten years before the elections may be elected President. The referendum of October 17, 2004 resulted in the abolishment of the provisions in Paragraph 1 of Article 81 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, which restricted the period in office of President for the same individual to two consecutive terms.

Currently the President of the Republic of Belarus is Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko. On March 19, 2006 he was re-elected President of the Republic of Belarus for the third successive term.

Parliament

The National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus aka the Parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Council of the Republic.

The House of Representatives consists of 110 deputies who are elected in their respective constituencies and who represent interests of the citizens www.house.gov.by.

The Council of the Republic is the chamber of territorial representation. The Council of the Republic consists of eight deputies from every district and the city of Minsk, elected at the meetings of deputies of local Councils of Deputies of base level of every district and the city of Minsk by means of secret vote. Eight members of the Council of the Republic are appointed by the President of the Republic of Belarus. Any citizen of the Republic of Belarus who has reached the age of 21 may become a deputy of the House of Representatives. Any citizen of the Republic of Belarus who has reached the age of 30, and who has been resident in the respective region or the city of Minsk no less than five years may become a member of the Council of the Republic www.sovrep.gov.by.

Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Session of the CIS Heads of Government Council in Minsk Belarus President receives credentials from ambassadors of ten countries

[read more...]

Formation of Independent Policy

After gaining independence in 1991 Belarus became a full-fledged party to the international law. It was not easy for the young European state to make the first steps in the international arena protecting its national interests and forming foreign political course to guarantee peace, stability and well-being to the Belarusian people against the backdrop of globalization processes.

The ancestors of the Belarusian statehood were ancient principalities of the 9th–13th centuries, namely Principalities of Polotsk, Turov and Smolensk, as well as the Great Duchy of Lithuania (13th–18th centuries) with Old Belarusian as the official language.

On March 25, 1918 the Belarusian People’s Republic was proclaimed. Although it failed to achieve a real sovereignty, the republic was recognized by several European states, namely Ukraine, Finland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Turkey and others. In 1919 the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) was proclaimed which was recognized by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Poland and Germany. After acceding to the USSR in December 1922, the BSSR ceased any diplomatic activities and renewed them in 1944. Closed in 1923, the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs of the BSSR was reestablished in 1944. In 1946 it was renamed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the BSSR.