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Opinions & Interviews

1 Oct 2019

Makei unveils details of Belarus-Russia integration program

Makei unveils details of Belarus-Russia integration program
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MINSK, 1 October (BelTA) – In an interview with the RBC information agency, Belarus Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei unveiled details of the work on the Belarus-Russia advanced integration program. The text of the interview was posted on the website of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, BelTA has learned.

The minister noted that this program was surrounded by many conspiracy theories. “I want to say right away that in our view, the program itself poses no threat. Why? First of all, we proceed from the fact that sovereignty of our states should remain intact. In this case we talk about the sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus,” he emphasized.

“You know, even if someone today wanted to build a federation or a confederation with another state, I think they would fail, because today’s society has changed dramatically since the 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed. Several generations have grown in an independent state since that time and no one is ready to give up this independence,” Vladimir Makei continued.

In his words, the program strictly conforms to the provisions of the Union State Treaty of 1999. “There is no departure from this treaty,” the minister said. 

At the same time, initial proposals provided for adopting some provisions that would be absolutely unacceptable for Belarus. “For example, establishment of some supranational bodies, which runs afoul of the Union State Treaty. While meeting in Saint Petersburg the presidents discussed these matters and put it straight that these proposals disagree with the provisions of the treaty and there is no discussing them,” the minister said.

“Do you know what matters most for us in this program? It is clear that one should draft 31 roadmaps in various fields of trade and economic relations. However, the most important thing is to come to grips with the issues that lie on the surface.  We can talk about some strategic goals, but if we do not resolve today’s issues, we will not be able to proceed to advanced integration. What are these issues? The tax maneuver, barriers for the supplies of agricultural products and industrial products, disagreements related to prices for gas and oil,” the minister of foreign affairs said.

Vladimir Makei noted that the agreements reached by the parties are not always observed: “The tax maneuver is a case in point. We signed the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty. Both sides – Belarus and Russia – signed a respective protocol that is an integral part or an addendum to this treaty in which we tried to settle all sensitive issues related to the future prices for gas and oil for Belarus. Several months later, our Russian friends introduced the tax maneuver that brings to naught all the previous arrangements. How shall we treat this move? I believe it had been planned before… Then what was the point of signing the documents that would become void afterwards?” the minister asked.

“We are interested in resolving these glaring issues that lie on the surface today. I believe that unless they are resolved, we can hardly talk about signing the further documents. Because we do not understand the logic of our partners,” the minister said.

Speaking bout the deadlines for signing the program, Vladimir Makei noted: “The presidents are set to have a meeting timed to the 20th anniversary of the Union State Treaty and instructed their governments to draft appropriate roadmaps to settle the remaining issues. We hope that everything will work.”

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