Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Acting President of Ukraine Alexander Turchinov
On 29 March President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Acting President of Ukraine, Chairman of the Ukrainian parliament Alexander Turchinov. The meeting took place in Lyaskovichi, Gomel Oblast.
“It seems to me we ought to have met a long time ago in order to share opinions about the situation not only in Ukraine but around us as well and in order to determine our future steps, relations between the two countries and the two very close nations. I think that during today’s talks we will find some common ground. I think there are a lot of common grounds that have evolved over time. We will try to bring our views closer on matters that fail to be properly understood maybe due to the lack of information,” the Belarusian head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that the negotiations that had lasted for over three hours had touched upon the most urgent issues in Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. “The negotiations were very useful. We have shared opinions on all matters. I am very pleased about the results of our meeting. We were able to find understanding about all the problems and the issues that concern us. Now we can depart to Minsk and Kyiv while satisfied with the arrangements we have made here,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.
According to the Belarusian President, if there had been any misunderstanding between the sides, it had been caused by incomplete information about various problems. “I am thankful for the sincerity and warmth that you have managed to add to this meeting of ours,” the President of Belarus told Alexander Turchinov.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that the sides had come to terms on all the items on the agenda, including trade and economic cooperation. The Belarusian President reminded that for several years Alexander Turchinov had been the first vice premier of Ukraine and the co-chairman of the Belarusian-Ukrainian commission for trade and economic cooperation. “I have been able to clarify today that he clearly remembers and knows the problems that existed in Belarus-Ukraine relations. Today he was able to enumerate them with astounding precision,” the Belarusian head of state remarked. “While preparing for the meeting I also recounted the problems. It turns out we have to make up for failures in some aspects urgently,” he added.
The Belarusian President said that in view of the fact the two leaders had discussed problems of transportation between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. “We have agreed that in the near future we will revise these matters within the framework of the existing commission and if necessary, we will offer preferences for this transit,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The purchase of Ukrainian electricity by Belarus was also on the agenda of the talks. “It is universally acknowledged that Ukraine has a huge electricity generation capacity and we can buy the surplus. We also touched upon the matter of electricity transit via Belarus,” the Belarusian leader remarked.
Apart from that, the operation of joint ventures in Ukraine and Belarus was discussed as well as plans to advance cooperation in this area. Belarus is ready to help Ukraine in agricultural matters.
The Belarusian President thanked Alexander Turchinov for sincerely and honestly informing him about all the political issues and trends in Ukraine and about how things had happened. “A lot of it was a revelation for me. From his own lips I heard a lot of things that, unfortunately, I could not have known. I think it will add to the treasure of our good relations,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.
“You should not see us as enemies or competitors. Do not even think like that. We have always treated Ukrainians in a brotherly and humanly fashion. We are not strangers. I always say: it is our Ukraine,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated. “The people are the same, particularly here (in Polesye). Polesye is both Belarusian and Ukrainian, it is hard to distinguish those who live here. Even the local dialect that Belarusians speak resembles Ukrainian,” he added.
“I have lived here for a long time. It has been my home since the Chernobyl disaster when everyone was afraid of coming here. I visit it every spring. The tourist facility [Na Pripyati] can host a lot of people, Ukrainians, Russians, Belarusians, Jews, Tatars and many others. It may be the most tolerant center in Belarus,” the Belarusian leader noted.
“And you should know that we treat you and even treated you in the days and years of misunderstanding as our people,” the Belarusian head of state emphasized.
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that during the meeting he told Alexander Turchinov that a good neighborhood belt had been created around Belarus and the belt stretches about 100km deep into Ukraine. In essence Belarus helps neighborly regions of Ukraine with seasonal agricultural operations when Belarus can. The same approach is practiced with regard to Russian regions. “It is good that we do not look askance at each other near the border. We truly have been building this good neighborhood belt for many years. We are not prepared to destroy it now. There is absolutely no need to do it,” the Belarusian President said.
“Therefore, you have to know that our border — heads of the border service agencies are present here — is not a separation border but a friendship border. You should not expect any bad intentions on the part of the Belarusians here. We do not need it, you do not need it. We will always be with you as with the closest and friendliest state and will build our relations with this in mind. Rest assured,” Aleksandr Lukashenko concluded.
In turn, Alexander Turchinov mentioned the importance of Belarus-Ukraine cooperation. “Ukraine and Belarus are not just neighbors. They are fraternal nations that have lived, worked, and fought wars shoulder to shoulder for hundreds of years. It is very important for us to bolster relations between our nations so that no impassable borders would emerge between our countries, so that Belarusians and Ukrainians would feel safe, could hope for aid and support of each other,” Alexander Turchinov stated.
“As a key purpose of the visit I intended to feel support, the good neighborly attitude, the friendship of the Belarusian people,” the Acting President of Ukraine underlined.
Alexander Turchinov remarked that the countries had always been able to find solutions and a way out of any complicated situations. He suggested discussing not only political matters but also economic cooperation during the meeting.
Alexander Turchinov pointed out the importance of always bolstering Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. He pointed out the need to increase trade turnover between the two countries and suggested working out a roadmap to address existing problems.
Alexander Turchinov also pointed out the colossal potential for advancing the bilateral relations. “It goes beyond the transport corridor between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. It includes opportunities for cooperation in mechanical engineering, agribusiness, energy matters,” he said.
Moreover, Alexander Turchinov underlined the importance of spiritual affinity of the nations. Joint events in the area of culture are supposed to contribute to that.