Aleksandr Lukashenko attends session of Union State’s Supreme State Council

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Belarus and Russia have resolved all the urgent issues of bilateral relations, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko told media following the session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State held in Moscow on 25 December.

The session’s agenda included about 15 issues. Participants of the summit discussed Belarus-Russia cooperation in various industries. Before the session the two Presidents held a bilateral meeting intended to remove all the sensitive issues in bilateral relations and to discuss promising areas of cooperation.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that this format of bilateral meetings is very efficient and will remain so in the future.

Speaking about the recent session of the Supreme Eurasian economic Council, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that it was very productive and effective. “We took another step towards our cherished goal – the Eurasian Economic Union," the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed confidence that a good foundation for the future was laid down. "Someone might not like it, but we found our positions and we will go our own way. I am convinced that we will achieve the desired result,” the Belarusian head of state emphasized.

The Belarusian President believes that the Belarus-Russia Union State requires qualitative modernization given serious progress towards the Eurasian integration. There is a need to define clearly the functions of the Union State and the future Eurasian Economic Union so that they should do not duplicate each other.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that a range of solutions were tested in the Union State, and they are now successfully implemented in the "troika". "I believe that in the future the Union State should continue performing the role of icebreaker in addressing complex issues," he said.

In general, the Belarusian President praised the intensive development of both the bilateral Belarusian-Russian relations and Eurasian integration. He noted that for the first time in the past few years, the Supreme State Council has gathered for a second meeting during a year.

“In 2013, we continued implementing the joint programs financed from the Union State budget and launched new ones. The ministries and regions continued to interact closely. The cooperation between the military, diplomats and law enforcement has reached the level which is unprecedented for the post-Soviet space,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. He stressed that the parties made efforts to strengthen the regional grouping of troops, to reinforce the protection of external borders and air space. In his opinion, this shows how close the cooperation between the two countries is. In this context, the President of Belarus cited the successful joint Belarusian-Russian exercises Zapad-2013.

Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the growth of bilateral trade and development of economic relations against the background of the crisis in the international trade. "Our trade may be less than last year, but still it is almost half a billion dollars above the trade in 2011," the Belarusian leader noted.

“All this may seem mundane and routine. But this is the greatest achievement of our project. We have started to view our closest bilateral cooperation as something quite natural. This is the result of many years of hard work,” the President of Belarus said.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, there is a lack of momentum in promoting equal rights of citizens of Belarus and Russia. He stressed that he expects more active effort in this regard from the Permanent Committee and the governments of the two countries.

The President of Russia Vladimir putin, in turn, said that the work done within the framework of the Union State is important for all integration projects among the post-Soviet countries. The integration within the framework of the Union State is advanced in many areas and sets the tone for other integration associations, said Vladimir Putin. In his view, this is extremely important.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has supported the idea to establish the Belarusian-Russian interregional forum.

After the session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State Aleksandr Lukashenko said: "The governments of Belarus and Russia reached solutions on the most sensitive and difficult issues on the agenda of our relations. Today we can say that there is no single issue left, or request that we could address to the Russian side. We have solved all the issues on the eve of the New Year.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked the Russian side for the project to build a nuclear power plant in Belarus. As Vladimir Putin noted, the total amount of the Russian financial participation is $10 billion. He recalled that the first unit of the plant is scheduled to go on stream in the summer of 2018, the second unit in 2020.

The Belarusian President noted that thanks to Russia Belarus joined the club of space-faring nations, creating together with the Russians the space vehicles, one of which is already in orbit. He said that the parties agreed to expedite the establishment of joint ventures in this area.

The two countries continue the military-industrial cooperation. "We will vigorously defend the interests of our states, our citizens, ensuring the defense of Russia and Belarus,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined that the decisions adopted at the session attest to the expansion of the Belarusian-Russian cooperation in all areas. "The process of developing and enhancing the Union State has not been easy but has yielded practical results," the Belarusian head of state said.

According to the Belarusian President, the Belarus-Russia Union State remains to be the flagship in post-Soviet integration.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space are becoming a more tangible factor of the economic development. "The Union State has developed a more solid legal framework which served as an example and accelerated the adoption of documents within the framework of the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space. Therefore we should not lose this project,” the Belarusian leader said. He welcomed the support of the project by the Russian side.

"We will do everything to keep it running so that it would set an example of the close cooperation between not only former Soviet Union countries but also other countries from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” the President of Belarus said.

The President of Russia stressed that the priorities for the further development of the Union State are raising the efficiency of trade and economic cooperation, promoting close production cooperation, creating joint transportation system and common overall labor market.

Vladimir Putin said that Russia will provide Belarus an additional loan of up to $2 billion. “During today's meeting, considering the situation on the world markets the government of the Russian Federation took a decision to assist our partners and to provide the Republic of Belarus an additional loan of up to $2 billion in 2014,” Vladimir Putin said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that this money is not a present for Belarus. “I would like to tell those in Belarus who criticize us and Russia for this that both the Russian government and the President are careful with money, and always do things only for a particular reason,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He cited the fact that the Belarusian economy utilizes 60%-70% of resources and components of Russian enterprises which employ approximately 10 million Russians. In this way Russia supports its economy as well, the Belarusian President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to a difficult economic situation in the world, including in Russia which is the major consumer of Belarusian goods. Moreover, Belarus lost over $1.5 billion in the wake of the unfriendly acts of Uralkali which crashed the world’s potash market. Belarus’ President thanked the Russian side for the decisions made on 25 December to support the Belarusian economy in these difficult times.

Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined that despite the problems in international trade, this year Belarus and Russia managed to maintain stability and a high level of trade and economic cooperation. Belarus has become Russia’s largest partner in the CIS and fifth in the world. We are the closest nations and the closest allies in the world, Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

At the session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State Belarus and Russia agreed to strengthen cooperation in the fight against corruption and signed a corresponding intergovernmental agreement.

The parties also signed the intergovernmental agreements to implement the program of military-technical cooperation between Russia and Belarus up to 2020, and on cooperation in the field of ensuring international information security.

The new program of concerted actions in foreign policy in 2014-2015 was also approved.

Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked the Russian side for the tremendous support in the international arena at a time when Belarus came under pressure. “I understand it is not easy for Russia because it has to deal with pressure itself. Russia has always supported Belarus in international organizations, in the international arena on the most pressing issues,” the Belarusian head of state said.

All Belarusian facilities built for the Winter Olympics in Sochi have been completed, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko told reporters after the Union State Supreme State Council meeting. “We have completed all the projects we undertook. All the facilities have been completed and are already in service,” the head of state said.