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National identity hailed as important factor of Belarus' independence

Thanks to the national identity, Belarus has never been colonized by the West or the East, Director of the Institute of History of Belarus' National Academy of Sciences Vyacheslav Danilovich told BelTA

Thanks to the national identity, Belarus has never been colonized by the West or the East, Director of the Institute of History of Belarus' National Academy of Sciences Vyacheslav Danilovich told BelTA.

According to the scientist, despite numerous wars, political and economic turmoil, the Belarusian people did not disappear from the historical landscape. They preserved their traditions, spiritual and cultural values, and stood for their right to independent development and a sovereign state. “We acquired a wealth of experience in surviving and fighting our corner. The strong national identity of Belarusians is an objective reason why Belarus has never been a dependent territory, let alone a colony of the West or the East,” Vyacheslav Danilovich underlined.

He stressed that the national forms of Belarus' statehood originated in 1918 when both the Belarusian society and national leaders became ready to declare independence. “The declaration of the Belarusian People's Republic was no accident. It was during that complicated and extremely controversial historical period when objective and subjective conditions emerged for the national statehood idea to become reality,” the NASB History Institute director said.

Throughout 1918, the Rada (Council) of the Belarusian People's Republic and the People's Secretariat were, in fact, the only social and political centers in Belarus, that tried to protect the interests of Belarusians on the international arena to the fullest extent possible. Limited by tough military occupation conditions, without sufficient funds and specialists, the republican government, however, achieved tangible results in different fields. For instance, in 1918 it was de-facto recognized by Ukraine and opened consulates in Soviet Russia and the North Caucasus, got support from Lithuania and Latvia. The Belarusian Central Chamber of Trade was set up to engage in trade with Ukraine in autumn 1918. The People's Secretariat also came up with a number of measures to form Belarus' own financial system. Plenty of work was done to return refugees to the country.

The People's Secretariat and the Rada received certain support in the regions, which was reflected in the establishment of local radas in Vitebsk, Mogilev, Bobruisk, Radoshkovichi, and other populated centers, the scientist added. The secretariat achieved the biggest results in culture and enlightenment. The Belarusian language obtained an official status in the country. The authorities arranged courses for primary school teachers, opened Belarusian-language schools, and published schoolbooks. It inaugurated the State Theater of the Belarusian People's Republic headed by Florian Zhdanovich and the Belarusian People's Choir.

“The declaration of the Belarusian People's Republic was a logical follow-up to the preceding fight of Belarusian organizations and political parties for the national statehood. In fact, that was when practical steps towards this goal were made for the first time ever in the history of the Belarusian nation. However, due to the adverse geopolitical and internal conditions, the Belarusian People's Republic did not achieve independence. It was a failed attempt to create an independent state, but its proclamation brought Belarus' statehood matter on the European geopolitical agenda. The efforts of the Belarusian national leaders aimed at forming an independent national state were irreversible,” Vyacheslav Danilovich summarized.