Aleksandr Lukashenko makes official visit to Ukraine

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Belarus is interested in bolstering all-round cooperation with Ukraine, President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych on 18 June.

The heads of state held one-on-one and extended negotiations to discuss a wide range of issues on the bilateral agenda, including in trade and economy.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus is ready to resolve all problem issues in relations with Ukraine.

As far as the bilateral trade and economic cooperation is concerned, the Belarus President pointed out a high level of mutual trade, which made up $8 billion in 2012. The Belarusian President noted that the countries have gone a long away from simple trade to establishing joint ventures. Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined that the Belarusian side is determined to create more joint ventures with localization in Ukraine.

Moreover, Belarus is ready to participate in programs for the rehabilitation of agriculture in Ukraine. The Belarusian side is ready not only to supply agricultural equipment but also to set up joint ventures so that the modernization of the agriculture industry should be based on modern technologies.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also drew attention to the wide cooperation possibilities for Belarus and Ukraine in the field of road, rail and maritime transportation.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarus' first nuclear power plant is under construction. The Belarusian President considers that Ukraine has a huge experience in operating a nuclear facility. But the main thing here is professionals. “We would like Ukraine to help us with training of specialists,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. "We will count on you,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

The Belarusian President stressed that one of the cooperation priorities is energy.

Speaking about the bilateral trade, Viktor Yanukovych noted that Belarus and Ukraine have great potential, but it is not used in full. The Ukrainian President believes that the two countries should come up with specific cooperation proposals across various fields. Ukraine is keen on establishing closer ties with Belarus in many cooperation avenues.

The Ukrainian head of state drew attention to opportunities in the transport and logistics sector.

Viktor Yanukovych informed that during a one-on-one meeting the Presidents discussed matters related to oil transportation, cooperation in agribusiness, mechanical engineering and defense industry, as well as interregional and cross-border ties.

The Ukrainian President emphasized that the two countries have great cooperation prospects in power engineering, which pertains first of all to supplies of Ukrainian electric power to the Baltic States using transit capacities of Belarus.

Besides, Belarus and Ukraine are interested in expanding trade in agricultural produce. The governments of the two countries were instructed to carefully study all new promising joint projects and initiatives.

Belarus and Ukraine are interested in unimpeded access of their goods to the markets of each other and are ready to remove the restrictions in mutual trade. Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the supply of technologically sophisticated products on leasing terms can be one of the reserves to increase the bilateral trade. In his opinion, the governments of Belarus and Ukraine should speed up the preparation of an intergovernmental agreement on the establishment of an enabling environment for leasing.

The central banks of the two countries will soon take joint measures to promote the use of modern financial instruments such as export crediting, international leasing in bilateral trade.

The two leaders agreed to intensify trade and economic relations between Belarus and Ukraine, especially in the field of industrial cooperation as the most advanced form of cooperation. The greatest prospects are connected with the development of joint ventures and enterprises in the field of agricultural engineering, urban passenger transport.

The Presidents emphasized the importance of regional cooperation and ties between the border areas.

The talks also focused on cultural and humanitarian cooperation. In 2014 Ukraine is expected to host the Days of Belarusian Culture. There are plans to hold the Days of Ukrainian Culture in Belarus in 2015.

Apart from bilateral relations, integration issues were also top on the agenda of the meeting in Kyiv.

“As regards the Customs Union, the Single Economic Space, which is formed by three states, you know my attitude to it, and it echoes the position of Russia and Kazakhstan: We very much would like Ukraine not just to cooperate with us but be next to us in the Single Economic Space,” the Belarusian head of state said.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, "it will be a powerful association.” “I think that the whole world will reckon with such association. And that is our common position,” he stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko admitted that Ukraine has some way to go to get a good grasp of everything that has been accomplished in the "troika" and understand the processes that are taking place there. “I think Ukraine will get determined in the near future with regard to the Eurasian Union,” the Belarusian head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko proposed not to escalate the situation in this respect. "There is nothing extraordinary about Ukraine being engaged in talks with the EU. Russia is in talks on a new agreement with the European Union, Kazakhstan is also negotiating a new agreement with the European Union. So is Ukraine. The only thing is that we would not want Ukraine to sign an agreement, which will keep it away from integrating into the Single Economic Space and the future Eurasian Economic Union,” the Belarusian President said.

“We understand that Ukraine is a big country, which was established as a sovereign independent state long ago, and which has the right and will build its relations in the interests of the Ukrainian people, of course without any detriment to its neighbors. We have no worries about it. But we would like Ukraine to be among our ranks,” the Belarusian head of state said.

“As for me personally, Ukraine is not an alien country for me. As the head of state I will be doing everything possible to maintain very close, friendly, the most favorable for Ukraine relations,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that Belarus is interested in strengthening cooperation with Ukraine in view of the rapid development of Eurasian integration. “We are ready for both bilateral and multilateral consultations in this field to develop harmonized approaches. Kyiv can count on a balanced approach on the part of Minsk in decision-making on the issues sensitive for the Ukrainian side,” the Belarusian President emphasized.

Viktor Yanukovych said that Ukraine has been isolated from the process of establishment of the Customs Union. During this time, the "troika" has taken many steps. According to the Ukrainian head of state, necessary instruments were necessary for Ukraine to be able to join the Customs Union. And one of them was the memorandum to enhance cooperation between Ukraine and the Eurasian Economic Commission signed in Minsk on 31 May. “This decision was dictated by purely economic interests of Ukraine and traditional relationships between the countries of the Customs Union and Ukraine,” Viktor Yanukovych stressed.

“I am convinced that the efforts to promote interaction with the Customs Union and in the future with the Eurasian Economic Union will help to achieve the necessary progress in economic cooperation and improvement of the well-being of people,” the Ukrainian leader said. He also noted the contribution of the Belarusian partners to promoting the dialogue between Ukraine and the Customs Union.

"The signing of the memorandum is in the interests of Ukraine and in no way contradicts the association agreement with the EU," The Ukrainian head of state stressed.

Moreover, Viktor Yanukovych said that Ukraine would like Belarus to join the World Trade Organization as soon as possible. “We welcome Belarus’ plans to become a fully-fledged member of the WTO. We would like it to happen as soon as possible,” he said.

After the negotiations Belarus and Ukraine signed a number of documents. One of them is a protocol on the exchange of ratification notes on the state border agreement concluded by the two countries on 12 May 1997. The document was inked by Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei and First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Ruslan Demchenko at the presence of the two heads of state.

According to Viktor Yanukovych, the demarcation of the common border started after the two countries signed the protocol. In his words, after the demarcation process is completed, the cooperation between the border areas of the two countries is expected to become more vibrant.

The State Border Committee of Belarus and the Administration of the State Border Service of Ukraine signed a protocol on the order of sharing information regarding the situation at the state borders of Belarus and Ukraine.

The Trade Ministry of Belarus and the State Consumer Advocacy Inspectorate of Ukraine signed an agreement on the main areas of cooperation in the protection of consumers.

Apart from that, the parties signed an agreement on cooperation in the security and sustainable use of the cross-border natural reserves and an agreement on cooperation in the forestry.

The Belarus President expressed satisfaction with the positive dynamics of cooperation. "We reaffirm the deep interest in bolstering the cooperation in all areas," said the Belarusian head of state. During the years of independence, we have been able to not just maintain but also to strengthen and expand significantly the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations at all levels. And today, our countries have reached the level of system-based long-term partnership, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

As part of the official visit to Ukraine the Belarusian head of state also met with Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Volodymyr Rybak. Belarus and Ukraine deem it necessary to bolster inter-parliamentary cooperation.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he is very familiar with the work of MPs. The Belarusian head of state believes that parliament members should voice their views in order to come up with the best decisions.

Volodymyr Rybak believes that the bilateral ties in many ways depend on efficient cooperation between the legislative branches of power of the two countries. He noted that the visit of the Belarusian President to Ukraine is very important. In his view, the visit will give a boost to bilateral ties across many fields.

The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine also spoke about cooperation within the framework of the CIS. In his words, the CIS chairmanship experience of Belarus is relevant for Ukraine.

In the evening on 18 June the President of Ukraine hosted an official dinner in honor of the President of Belarus.