Afghan war veterans should succeed to veterans of the Second World War as role models for young people, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with activists of the Belarusian Union of Veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War on 10 May.
“It is saddening that veterans of the Great Patriotic War are leaving us, but it is natural. Therefore, you should pick up the slack and promote patriotism among the youth,” the head of state said addressing representatives of the union.
Alexander Lukashenko emphasized that Belarus attaches great importance to the development of NGOs, especially organizations, like the Belarusian Union of Veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War. “In fact, you are a battle group. I would like you to become a true core of constructive patriotism,” the President said.
At present, Belarus has over 27,000 veterans who fought abroad. Addressing the Afghan war veterans, the President underlined that they have earned great respect among people. “You are the example of courage, dedication and fidelity for our young people. You have things to say to people. You possess valuable experience and can make correct judgments,” the head of state said. During the meeting the President wanted to discuss problems facing the veterans as well as development prospects of the organization.
Top on the agenda was targeted social support for the Afghan war veterans. “You are the activists of the organization. You are supposed to know all the problems and specific needs of your members. To address these problems you need to establish closer links with the local authorities, first of all,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The President emphasized that new allowances are impossible. “I am strongly convinced that we should help those who really need it, like the disabled and the poor who cannot provide for themselves. There are a lot of them in Belarus and we spend a lot of money to help them and the expenses are going to mount. We cannot abandon the homeless, disabled, poor, elderly who cannot earn their money,” the President said. He added that the organization consists mostly of strong people who are able to earn their bread. Therefore, the government should give them an opportunity to do their own thing, to implement projects aimed at improving the union and the lives of Belarusians.
The President also drew attention to the need to enhance the status of Afghan war veterans in the society. “Prestige of any organization is based on its unity. Unfortunately, some people are trying to provoke discord among Afghan war veterans. There are not many of them but still they do exist,” the President stated. In his opinion, it is very important that “the tone should be set by people of patriotic beliefs rather than mouthpieces of the “fifth column”. The strength of your union and the country as a whole is in unity. They say “one man no man”. I think you should demonstrate unity and mutual assistance,” the head of state believes.
The President is convinced that the union should rally the ranks, turn all Afghan war veterans into the force capable of influencing public opinion and social processes in the country.
The third block of questions during the meeting dealt with the role of the union in patriotic education in the society. “We want the Afghan war veterans to become the nucleus of the patriotic forces of the country. You will be welcome in schools, colleges and universities. You have something to say to people. You should bring together all those who care about the future of the Fatherland,” the head of state said.
He is confident that the union has a great potential. “I think your presence in the society should be stronger. I mean everyday work at schools, universities and companies is what is important today,” the President said.
Alexander Lukashenko is convinced that intergenerational continuity is of crucial importance today. “In Belarus WWII veterans are highly respected. But to become their decent successors we should possess exceptional moral qualities. Beating the enemy was not their only deed. They rebuilt the country and by personal example brought up more than one generation of patriots and workers. I want you to be the most dignified continuators of their noble mission,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The head of state reminded that the work to set up a renewed Entrepreneurship Development Council under the President of the Republic of Belarus is underway in the country. “The council should have the fairest and strongest businessman, who will represent the Afghanistan war veterans. He will be able to speak boldly to raise his own issues and common ones,” the head of state said.
According to the President, the present council’s performance is terrible. “I am displeased with it. I have given instructions to redo it with more essence but I am still busy with other things. But businessmen should blame themselves: they should lobby their projects. Things must change. If you are a member of the council, you should care for entrepreneurship starting with general legal issues and ending with concrete projects,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed.
Taking into consideration that Afghan war veterans hold responsible public offices, Alexander Lukashenko reminded of the forthcoming parliamentary election. “We need to have representatives of Afghan war veterans in the parliament to represent your point of view while discussing various regulations,” the President noted.