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    LUKASHENKO: BELARUS ARMED FORCES REACHED QUALITATIVELY NEW STATE

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    MINSK, February 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Olesya Luchaninova) -- On Monday Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko stated at the official reception on the occasion of the Fatherland Defender's Day that results of restructuring of the Belarus Army demonstrated that it reached a qualitatively new state and was capable of efficient implementation of assigned tasks in the contemporary environment.

    Lukashenko stated: "Presently we may say that we created a new efficient control system and an improved organizational and staff structure of the Belarus Armed Forces, improved staffing of units and divisions, improved military education system." According to him, the republic was systematically developing the defense sector of economy and its scientific potential. The country's management was hopeful that the recently established state military and industrial complex would bring results. The Belarus President stressed that the "army of the republic had to have the most sophisticated weaponry." The Belarus leadership was especially concerned with the fact that "along Belarus boundaries a huge military and strategic potential of unfriendly character was being accumulated." The Belarus leader was of the opinion that under such conditions it was necessary to stay on constant alert, to apply diplomatic efforts as well as to develop its military and political potential.

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