Aleksandr Lukashenko holds session on the eve of his visit to Kazakhstan
The Eurasian Economic Union treaty is a compromise and is different from the treaty that Belarus counted on and that partners stated initially. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement at the government conference held on the eve of Aleksandr Lukashenko’s going to Kazakhstan to take part in the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at the level of heads of state.
The work on the Eurasian Economic Union treaty is in the final stretch and the document is supposed to be signed in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on 29 May just the way the three presidents have agreed. “Our views have been understandable and clear from the start. However, we’ve been criticized recently and Russian mass media are particularly brutal, saying that Lukashenko is bargaining for something and trying to sell his signature at a higher price. This is why we absolutely honestly and sincerely stated that just like Russia and Kazakhstan we will go where our country can profit because national interests prevail,” noted the President.
“We have never been cheapskates, we have never demanded more from our partners and neighbors than we contributed to the common cause. As a result, the treaty that we can sign is kind of a compromise. Unfortunately, it is not the treaty that Belarus counted on and not the treaty that our partners, primarily the Russian Federation, stated initially,” said the head of state.
“We didn’t force anyone to talk about an economic union, a full-fledged Customs Union. The treaty was suggested without any exemptions and restrictions. It is supposed to virtually found one country from the economic point of view, operation rules of the three economies are supposed to be absolutely the same and to be in the same legal environment. It was what Russia stated primarily with Kazakhstan’s backing,” noted the President. “We understood that their economies are somewhat different from ours and even a lot different from ours. Their economies are based on raw materials, oil, gas and so on. It will be difficult for us to operate without exemptions and restrictions in these conditions, nevertheless, we have stated that we will go for it”.
“Years later some calculations have resulted in tears. It turns out that they cannot live without exemptions and restrictions. They have shifted some matters from the treaty into bilateral relations such as oil, gas, medications and other areas. So we cannot but agree,” said the Belarusian leader. He pointed out that there are no essential problems in bilateral relations with Kazakhstan. As far as Russia is concerned, Belarus needed to come to terms regarding the oil issue. “We have agreements on natural gas. We could do the same with regard to oil, including the volume of deliveries, the transfer of customs duties on oil products. We transfer up to $4 billion in customs duties on oil products to the Russian budget after refining their oil. We asked why we have to share our profits if we talk about a full-value economic union. We were told that oil is a specific product and therefore the scheme will stay in place for now. We raised the issue point blank. And not because we are bargaining for something although it may be natural but because Russia suggested dealing with the issue via bilateral relations. This is why we have started these talks,” said the head of state.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that they had managed to resolve a lot of issues, including the transfer of customs duties. “Next year the Belarusian budget will keep $1.5 billion. The matter is open for discussion and we have reached a firm agreement with the president of Russia that we are going to fix the issue once and for all in order to leave the money in the Belarusian budget. If we manage it, we will not have to beg for money to balance payments,” noted the President. He reminded that the sides had reached an agreement on automobiles, automobile transportation, on oil quotas, that Belarus would get at least 23 million tonnes of oil. “If we want, we may get even more if all of a sudden we want to build a new oil refinery,” noted the head of state.
Aleksandr Lukashenko asked those present what other issues were left to be addressed. “What other issues do I have to raise before the presidents, with whom I will have to have complicated negotiations before signing the treaty? What other issues are left to address?”
“It is very serious. I would like the government and all those present to understand that once we sign the treaty, we will have to follow the spirit and the letter of the treaty,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko.
“You suggest adopting some statement as part of the treaty. If so, write it down in a language anyone can understand. We may take something things into account,” said the head of state. “We should clearly indicate that since our bilateral agreements satisfy us, as a supplement to the treaty, they satisfy us in 2014 and 2015, well, good then, we will work like partners. If we fail to come to terms in years to come, different people may rise to power in Belarus, we should clearly determine and write down that an economic union is out of the question if we fail to come to terms on a bilateral basis. It has to be clearly and unmistakably stated. We don’t want different interpretations later”.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said he wanted reports about the final results of Belarusian negotiations with the Russian and Kazakh sides regarding the signing of the Eurasian Economic Union treaty as of the morning of 28 May.