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Opinions & Interviews

18 Jan 2019

Terms of Belarus’ tighter integration with Russia revealed

Terms of Belarus’ tighter integration with Russia revealed

MINSK, 18 January (BelTA) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has specified conditions for Belarus’ tighter integration with Russia as part of the Union State project, including the introduction of a common currency, unification of the tax policy and the customs policy. The conditions were specified during a meeting held in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian diplomatic service on 18 January, BelTA has learned. Former Belarusian ministers of foreign affairs took part in the meeting.

Alexander Lukashenko said: “We are ready for the union. We are ready for unification but people should be the ones to make the decision, not us. We don’t shy away from a single provision. If someone starts talking about unification with me, then the talk starts from the top: let’s have a common currency. We don’t mind a common currency, but it should be common. It should not be the currency of the Central Bank of Russia. We need an emission center on equal terms. If you talk about the European Union as an example, okay, let’s do it on the European Union’s principles. But the terms and the approach should be equal.”

“Do you want to unify the tax policy and the customs one? I agree. I said so last time but on the best traditions and conditions. We will borrow the best practices from Belarus and Russia. But we don’t accept the view: we are big, you are small, do like we do,” continued the head of state.

Alexander Lukashenko believes that some complaints about Belarus have nothing to do with interstate or international relations. “It is all about specifics, about specific persons, about someone not liking the policy Belarus pursues. Not even the foreign policy. But the economy we are building, the social system we are creating primarily on principles of justice. I’ve been a proponent of this thesis for more than 20 years. It turns out Russia needs it a lot these days. This is why everything is trivial: someone wants to reduce Belarus’ standing in Russia. And this is why these assaults are launched,” he remarked.

Alexander Lukashenko made it clear that one should respond to it in a calm and persistent manner. “We have to protect our sovereignty and independence. We are not against Russians, Poles, or Lithuanians. We’d love to be part of any union but in our own apartment. We have this apartment. Our neighbors, whatever they are, we cannot choose neighbors, and we are ready to build kind, warm, and mutually beneficial relations with everyone,” stated the Belarusian leader.

“Regardless of how our relations with Russia turn out, we will never allow anyone to treat Russians bad in Belarus, in this sacred land. Not only Russians. If someone wants us to be at odds with one another, it won’t work. We know how to respond to it,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

“Fortunately, access to several Belarusian TV channels is available in the entire Russia. There is also the Internet. And we will always be able to get our point across to the Russian man in the street,” noted the head of state.

At the same time Alexander Lukashenko said he does not believe there is a crisis in relations with Russia right now. “I just have to say that some people emerged… Didn’t emerge. They’ve been working there for a long time. They’ve recently decided to put some pressure even on their own head of state. I don’t think Vladimir Putin is a new man in politics. During my meetings with him I see that the man is intent on keeping Belarus-Russia relations unbroken,” said Alexander Lukashenko. “[Breaking them] would be extremely disadvantageous. It would be detrimental to him as a politician and even more so for me. This is why you and I have always pursued, one can say, a pro-Russian policy. By advocating a multivector foreign policy, we’ve always identified Russia not only as our key partner, but as the closest brotherly nation, whose people are not strangers for us. And it will be so.”

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