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5 Dec 2019

Belarus president talks about upcoming talks with Putin, problems in relations with Russia

Belarus president talks about upcoming talks with Putin, problems in relations with Russia

MINSK, 5 December (BelTA) – Work on the action program on tighter integration within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia, on the package of roadmaps, and on a number of agreements to address sensitive issues for both sides is nearing completion. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the relevant statement in his address to newly elected and outgoing members of both chambers of the parliament on 5 December, BelTA has learned.

The head of state said: “Our working groups led by the prime ministers will discuss it on 6 December. I suggested it should be done on 6 December to Putin. And on 7 December we will meet and take a look at what the working groups have produced. If possible, we will make the decision.”

“It is a purely economic agenda,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

At the same time the head of state noted that a number of fundamental issues have not been resolved yet, including those relating to oil and natural gas.

“What tighter integration can we talk about if we don’t have an agreement on natural gas deliveries? Although we came to terms a long time ago. And our governments have failed these terms. Not through the fault of the Belarusian government. So a new year is nearly here while we still have no agreement on the volume of deliveries and prices for natural gas,” Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned as an example.

“There are still unresolved issues with regard to oil. Even the basic polluted oil issue is still unresolved. We are calculating something, making decisions. While they pretend the polluted oil disaster never happened. Our GDP growth is below projections primarily due to oil problems. Because petrochemical industry also depends on our refineries,” the head of state continued.

He also mentioned that Russia periodically bans Belarusian exports while there are no doubts about the quality of Belarusian products. “It is the kind of competition we have between our countries,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

There are also lingering problems with permits for Belarusian truckers.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also stressed that Belarus asks for no loans from Russia. “They’ve started talking about the last tranche from the Eurasian bank [the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development]. I have personally forbidden the finance minister to take this money. We can do without it.”

“We need just one thing – equal terms for Belarusian and Russian commercial entities,” the head of state noted. “Even if we talk about competition, the conditions have to be normal.”

At the same time Belarus and Russia have successfully cooperated in military affairs for a long time. There are some Russian facilities and installations in Belarus. The Union State border is protected. “These common matters need to be tied to economy. We need to demonstrate how much it costs,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “We also do a lot for Russia. We’ve always been an outpost here, in the west.”

The president assured that while working with Russia on a number of documents, Belarus always takes into account national interests. “We intend to stick to this policy during the upcoming negotiations that will take place tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” the Belarusian head of state concluded.

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