Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko met with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Azerbaijan to Belarus Latif Gandilov on 12 November.
Welcoming the diplomat, Alexander Lukashenko said: “We have developed a good practice when I meet with ambassadors not only at a time of their arrival in Belarus and departure but in the course of their work here. You know that I have held meetings with other ambassadors. The last one was the meeting with the Ambassador of the Russian Federation. So there's nothing unusual about it”.
The main reason for the meeting with the diplomat is the forthcoming visit to Belarus of Ilham Aliyev, the head of state said. “We have something to talk about. There are a lot of issues. Although I must say that the foundation of our relations is growing stronger,” the President said.
Alexander Lukashenko noted that since the beginning of the year the Belarusian-Azerbaijani trade has increased more than three times compared with the same period a year prior. “This is a very good increase. There is hardly such growth in trade with other states,” he noted. At the same time, the potential for interaction between the two countries is much higher." There is room for growth and there is something we need to work on,” the head of state added.
The President also mentioned Belarusian-Azerbaijani cooperation in the humanitarian sector, especially educational contacts. About 500 Azerbaijani students are attending universities in Belarus. “Our doors are open for Azerbaijan,” Alexander Lukashenko said and emphasized the importance of educational and scientific exchanges.
“You should know that we are your friends and are always ready to meet you halfway. Our agreements with Ilham Aliyev will be fulfilled. Belarus has no closed themes in cooperation with Azerbaijan,” the Belarusian leader said.
He also spoke about the recent CSTO summit in Astana. The head of state remarked that he was surprised by the rumors about the major topics that had been discussed at the meeting. “They said that we had discussed the candidates for the CSTO secretary general’s position. Yes, we discussed this matter, but it took us about 15 minutes,” the President remarked.
“The most discussed topic was the foreign policy situation around the CSTO countries. Of course, while discussing the situation around our countries, we also touched upon the internal policy situation but only at the suggestion of a certain President. No one was going to interfere in certain processes. For example, Nikol Pashinyan. There will be the parliamentary elections on 9 December, he talked about it, we listened to him,” the head of state said. “Belarus hosted several events: the Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting, forums of regions with Ukraine and Russia, and I touched upon those issues. All the events happening around us have an impact on the internal policy situation. The presidents listened to me and took notice. They also informed us about the events in their countries. Nothing extraordinary.”
Speaking about the appointment of a new head of the CSTO apparatus, Alexander Lukashenko remarked: “Of course, there were many options. But it does not mean that we pinched Armenia, that there is a winner and a loser. It means that Nikol Pashinyan should sort out the situation in the government because this country presides in the EAEU (our economic union) and the CSTO. This is very big pressure for the country in such a transitional period. Will Armenia cope with it? If Nikol Pashinyan sorts the things out and gives us an answer, it will be in Saint Petersburg.” The Belarusian leader emphasized that the decision may be made at the meeting on 6 December.
Speaking about the candidates, the President said that the rotation follows the alphabetical order of the names of the CSTO member states, so Belarus comes after Armenia. “Right now I have three candidates for the CSTO secretary general’s position,” the head of state said.