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16 Sep 2020

Lukashenko talks about details of Sochi talks with Putin

Lukashenko talks about details of Sochi talks with Putin
The talks in Sochi. Photo courtesy of the press service of the Russian president – BelTA

MINSK, 16 September (BelTA) – Details of negotiations of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and President of Russia Vladimir Putin in Sochi on 14 September were revealed by the Belarusian head of state as he met with the country's political core on 16 September, BelTA has learned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “We've discussed the entire complex of matters. Nearly five hours. By the way, Putin and I worked out a plan of negotiations. The ministries of foreign affairs, the governments, the presidents – this formula was worked out before the election.”

In his words, Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin primarily discussed matters concerning energy industry. “We didn't go too deep into specific figures and what not. But as [Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Russia, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of cooperation with Russia Vladimir] Semashko told me, he is in negotiations with energy industry officials in Russia. He says they are totally different people and can talk about prices and so on and so forth,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Access to markets was another thing raised during the meeting with Vladimir Putin. “Putin suggested activating our holding companies, large industrial enterprises. May their heads and ministers meet. It is necessary for them to hold meetings and trade with each other. I say okay, it suits me.” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also mentioned the $1.5 billion loan that Russia will give to Belarus. “I should say I insisted on it. The prime minister and the finance minister suggested to me that this loan will be paid. This year we are supposed to repay one billion to them [the Russian side] as part of an old debt of ours. We are ready to repay this billion despite all the complications. It is not a new loan. It was my request to the Russian leadership: we don't have to pay this billion to you this year, we will keep it and it will roll over to the next year. The interest rate on it is acceptable. So it is a matter of refinancing,” the Belarusian leader said.

Apart from that, in addition to contacts between heads of enterprises and large holding companies Vladimir Putin suggested stepping up regional cooperation. “I told him very good, a Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia will take place in late September, we will start intensifying communications between oblast governors. It is a great thing. They will accomplish a lot,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “So, on the way home from Sochi at night Semashko told me that he and the industry minister had travelled to Russia and had brought contracts worth $290 million – BelAZ, MAZ vehicles and the rest. Contracts had been signed. One third of a billion. It is a lot of money. So, we should put some back into it.”

“We also very seriously talked about rerouting freight traffic from the Baltic states to St Petersburg. I told him plainly: if you offer us the terms we have in the Baltic states, we will do it, it's all the same to us. He knew I hadn't left Sochi yet, he gave instructions to calculate everything and hold the relevant negotiations,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin paid close attention to cooperation in the sphere of military industry and defense. “It was my suggestion and we should arrange army exercises. We don't have to care what someone says about us. An army that doesn't wage wars is no army. At least we should arrange army exercises,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

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