Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with participants of session of CIS Council of Heads of Government

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President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the CIS should be strengthened, because it is a factor of stability and security in the region. The Belarusian President made this statement as he met with heads of delegations taking part in the meeting of the CIS Heads of Government Council on 31 May.

“No matter what some people think of our Commonwealth, today the CIS is the most significant international regional organization on the post-Soviet space both in terms of the number of participating states and cooperation areas,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the CIS gave a start to integration processes in the region. The CIS contributed to the formation of independent states and expansion of mutually beneficial ties between them.

The CIS has its peculiarities, like selective participation in cooperation projects. “This format made the Commonwealth a popular ground for holding an interstate dialogue across the broadest range of issues. This is what makes the Commonwealth so strong and weak at the same time. A possibility to choose a cooperation area and resolutions to sign makes the organization more stable on the one hand and less efficient on the other,” Alexander believes.

“You are aware of how long it might take to reconcile, pass and implement decisions within the framework of the Commonwealth, while time pushes us to adopt totally different approaches. Taking into consideration adverse global developments, we need to strengthen the positions of the CIS as a factor of stability and security in this vast region, and enhance the role of the Commonwealth on the international arena,” the Belarusian President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized the importance of constant improvement of cooperation mechanisms, their viability and efficiency.

The President is convinced that economy should remain the fulcrum of the Commonwealth of Independent States. “It is obvious for everyone that the CIS future depends on the pace of economic integration of the member states. Without accomplishing this important task it would be very difficult for us to position the Commonwealth as a successful regional organization,” the Belarusian head of state said.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the adoption of the strategy to guide the CIS economic development till 2020 and the action plan to implement the strategy is a positive factor.

The Belarus President emphasized the signing of the agreement on a free trade zone for commodities. “We need more concrete examples of our economic cooperation like that. At present it is very important to ensure the practical fulfillment of the agreement. Primarily it envisages livelier trade and economic cooperation and the reduction of the number of tariff provisos in the CIS free trade regime till their complete removal,” the President remarked.

“In view of the considerable role of the trade in services in economic relations between nations an agreement on free trade in services has to be prepared and adopted without delays,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

According to the head of state, there are considerable prospects for the advancement of manufacturing cooperation and cooperation between industries. “The success of cooperation in areas like power engineering, transport, agriculture, telecommunication, outer space, nano and biotechnologies is the engine that should drive the pace of our cooperation. The effective operation of interstate industry-specific councils is particularly important,” the Belarusian President is convinced.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that the Commonwealth of Independent States had advanced in matters of innovation cooperation and the adoption of the dedicated program to improve the information infrastructure for innovative activities in the CIS seems advisable. Making environmentally pristine technologies more affordable is an absolutely pressing matter, a lot is being done in the sphere of humanitarian cooperation. “I think that it is necessary to continue developing this promising area. Science, education, sport and tourism are the spheres that involve broad strata of the population of our countries,” the President noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out the importance of the interstate program Cultural Capitals of the Commonwealth. Declared as a cultural capital for 2013, the Belarusian city of Mogilev will implement ten large-scale projects and over 100 events. Creative intelligentsia, young people and tourists from all the CIS states are invited to participate. “Another forum of scientific and creative intelligentsia in Minsk will be a logical continuation of this work,” noted the Belarusian leader. Aleksandr Lukashenko invited representatives of the CIS states to take an active part in the forum.

The President believes that in the Year of Ecological Culture and Environmental Protection it is necessary to step up cooperation in the prevention and mitigation of man-caused and natural disasters and cooperation in enabling safe living standards.

Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention of participants of the meeting to the need to preserve the memory about the Great Patriotic War. “It is a factor that we should never run away from. It unites us. The number of Great Patriotic War veterans, who are still alive, is small and certainly these people need certain care and support. Our duty is to spread the historical truth about this war, about the heroic contribution of the Soviet nation to the Great Victory. It is a great asset of ours and we must not lose it,” the head of state stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that a lot has yet to be done to develop the information component of the Commonwealth of Independent States. As a rule, sessions of the CIS Heads of State Council are the newsmakers while all the other events are not covered well. “We have to think about ways to better cover the events that happen in the republics. Our common TV channel Mir enjoys colossal respect and support,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that all the outlined issues and areas of common work are stipulated by the concept of Belarus’ presidency in the CIS in 2013 and the action plan to implement the concept. “These events and measures may look insufficient or not very important for some people, but they represent something we have been able to agree on together. We could suggest a more extensive agenda, I know that there are CIS states, which are interested in tighter integration just like Belarus is. But today we suggest what can be implemented,” concluded the Belarusian head of state concluded.

As for the Commonwealth of Independent States Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that the CIS deserves praise because it had nurtured the ideas for such integration associations as the Union State of Belarus and Russia, the Customs Union, the Single Economic Space, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. According to the President, the dissatisfaction of individual nations with the integration pace in the CIS was one of the reasons.

In this respect Aleksandr Lukashenko told those present at the meeting about the results of the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Forum which took place in Astana on 29 May. The session was attended by presidents of Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

According to the head of state, the Astana session had been kind of a decisive moment and had been a very lively and productive discussion. “We discussed the treaty on our future union there. We are now at the level of the Single Economic Space. The Prime Minister of Russia knows it well because he was actively involved in the process. In private we often remark that without his will, when, represented by him, Russia signed and ratified all the SES documents, it would be impossible to create such a tight economic association. Today we fill this cooperation thanks to Dmitry Medvedev’s signing all the documents as the President of Russia for us to switch from talks to deeds,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

“Today we say that we should work out a treaty on the Eurasian Union. I should say that there were a lot of issues and hindrances regarding the content of the treaty on the eve of the conference. There are still certain fears of the sides regarding the degree of economic cooperation and the price for this cooperation. There are fears regarding political independence,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “As for the Belarusian side I sincerely said that we are not concerned about it much (the degree of cooperation) in political dimension, in military political, diplomatic, and other areas because we have already gone through that within the framework of the Union of Belarus and Russia. It is the most advanced organization. We haven’t lost anything there. Therefore, we are not that much strained by the development of the treaty on all the areas and, most of all, by the extent of the treaty”.

“We still have a lot of provisos even within the framework of the Single Economic Space, tariff and non-tariff regulations. I have to say that Russia has made a very serious step towards everyone by stating that virtually in 1-1.5 years, by 1 January 2015 at the latest, practically all the tariff restrictions, including those in the oil and gas industry, will be scrapped. However, Russia asked everyone, who is a member and will be invited as an observer, to keep in mind that complete freedom has to be enabled in all areas and we should act together in economic aspects,” the President of Belarus stated.

“But by 2015, by the time of the signing of this union treaty we should implement all the things that has been signed today but don’t work yet. It was a very important arrangement,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

“We have agreed that the union will be an economic one and the political problems that will impede the development of the union will surely be resolved. Life will pose these problems anyway. We will not be able to limit ourselves to purely economic cooperation because it always demands some additional actions in the area of politics, diplomacy, and defense. We have agreed that we will address these issues step by step,” the Belarus President added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan showed their willingness to get an observer status at the future Eurasian Union that will be established in 2015. “From now on they will be invited to all sessions. We will be open for them; they will be able to attend all discussions. We will invite the heads of state, government, and other representatives of these countries to attend all sessions, meetings, formal or informal summits to discuss matters related to the Single Economic Space. Later they will get, if they want, of course, an observer status in our union,” the Belarusian head of state explained.

“They assured that if they choose to join the Single Economic Space and later our economic union they will do it without any exemptions and limitations. They should join all our agreements and treaties that will have been signed by that time,” the Belarusian leader underlined.