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Opinions & Interviews

17 Oct 2019

Lukashenko: Belarus has not turned its back on Russia

Lukashenko: Belarus has not turned its back on Russia

MINSK, 17 October (BelTA) – Belarusians should not be seen as enemies who allegedly turned their backs on Russia. This country remains the main strategic partner of Belarus and we will settle all current issues, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said during a meeting with Governor of Russia’s Novgorod Oblast Andrei Nikitin in Minsk on 17 October, BelTA has learned.

"We should not be seen as enemies who have turned their backs on Russia," the president said. "We have never been such and never will be. We are not welcome there [in Western Europe]. The obstacle is not even Lukashenko's dictatorship, but the economy,” he said. Belarus produces goods similar to those produced in the European Union. “They produce mechanical engineering goods which are not worse than ours. They manufacture everything but for BelAZ-like haulers," the president explained. “They produce everything else: milk, meat, etc. No one will give us access to the market. I criticize them for this all the time. Our products (they admit it) are much better in many ways than theirs. But they will keep their market closed for us. What is the basis of cooperation with the European Union then?” the president noted.

At the same time, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that similar problems have emerged in trade with Russia, but they are temporary. “We will solve these issues. We speak the same language at least," he added.

The president stressed that close cooperation with the regions in the past helped preserve the relations between Belarus and Russia. “Because there were very difficult times, with tensions running high between us. It was only thanks to the regions that we managed to preserve our relations, and today they are at a decent level. We have problems, but the relations are at a decent level. I think that together with Dmitry Fyodorovich [Mezentsev, Russia's ambassador to Belarus], the Foreign Ministry and the Russian government (the presidents got involved too) we will solve these issues. We cannot lose each other in any way. Do you have a closer ally than Belarus? No. We do not have a closer country than Russia either. This is why we have to cooperate," he continued.

“But that does not mean that we sit against each other looking one at another. No," the head of state added. “I see some kind of Turkish gambit in play. All the states have gotten involved. Russia is also involved. It is watching how things are, however, in an advantageous position, as a peacekeeping country. We also need to watch our neighbors in the region, for example Ukraine,” the head of state noted.

The president once again stressed that Russians are not strangers to Belarusians. Neither other ethnicities and religions. “We have good relations with Chechnya, or Bashkortostan, with Muslims, Catholics, and Jews, and more so with the Orthodox in Russia," he said.

But generations pass. Young people come to power. “They did not experience the time when we all lived in a single state - the Soviet Union. You are a new generation too. Fortunately, you remember more than the current 30-year-olds. You remember that we lived in one state, you remember what Slavic unity is. Young people did not learn first hand or read about it in books. Wikipedia does not really write about that. It is important for us not to lose this relationship and to pass it on to new generations, so that our children understand that we are together, that we are not friends against someone. We are not going to fight against the European Union economically, diplomatically or militarily. We have enough of everything in Russia and Belarus. God willing, we have more people. We need to develop our lands. The main thing is that other things do not distract us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

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