Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov

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President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the Customs Union and Ukraine will be able to come up with some cooperation scheme after Ukraine signs the association agreement with the European Union. The Belarusian head of state made the statement as he met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov on 7 October.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that this matter is over-politicized. “We have overdramatized the situation. We should always keep in touch with reality. The conclusion of the association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union is almost an accomplished fact, according to statements made in Brussels and Kyiv. Therefore we should accept that Ukraine, which is a sovereign and independent state, has chosen this way and decided to sign this agreement,” the President said.

“To be honest, I do not see any problems here. It is important that this agreement and subsequent agreements should not impede Ukraine’s cooperation with the Single Economic Space and the Customs Union,” the Belarusian head of state believes.

“If Ukraine’s suggestions are acceptable for the Customs Union, we will meet Ukraine halfway. If they are detrimental and if Ukraine prioritizes the European Union over us, then, of course, Russia, Kazakhstan or Belarus will not do it. Even if they do, this will require certain compromises. We had to accept the reality and take it into consideration while pursuing our policy. No matter what Ukraine will do, even if it joins Nato, we will still have to maintain relations with Ukraine, we are just destined to do it for many reasons.

The Belarusian President underlined that the Troika would like Ukraine to take part in all integration projects. “We would be happy to have Ukraine in the Single Economic Space and the future Eurasian Union as an equal partner. I think we will find a way to stay together and not drift apart,” the Belarusian head of state said.

“We see Ukraine as a friendly nation. We want Ukraine to be with us in all integration projects. However, it is up to Ukraine to choose which way to go, and we should respect it and understand that this is a sovereign and independent state,” the President underlined.

“Therefore, in the nearest future we will have to do a lot to find an adequate cooperation scheme with Ukraine. We know it. By the word “we” I mean the Customs Union member states,” the Belarusian head of state said.

“It is clear that the West has new technologies. Maybe, it promised these advanced technologies to Ukraine. At the same time I am by Ukraine’s side in my heart and my soul,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.

Speaking about the bilateral relations, the President expressed confidence that the two countries will be able to handle all the issues.

“We are two brethren Slavonic nations, we have a long history of friendship; you cannot choose your neighbors, therefore, our task is to learn how to live with them in peace. I think this is the basis for our cooperation. Some say that this is more about emotions, rather than pragmatism. However, the entire world has become overly pragmatic recently; wars and conflicts break out around the world. You should not forget about human values, you should not think solely about money and commodities,” the head of state said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, for his part, said that Ukraine is interested in cooperation both with the European Union and the Customs Union.

“We will have to go a rather complicated way. We have undertaken to accomplish a lot. We will do it for our own sake, not someone else’s,” the Prime Minister said. “Therefore, we will start with the fact that it is very important for us to have a free trade zone with the European Union and it is as important to have normal relations, a free trade zone with the Customs Union, to be part of the integration processes, part of the Single Economic Space,” he stressed. Nikolai Azarov remarked that the Customs Union accounts for about $65 billion in trade.

“We do not set one association against the other. Contrariwise, we would like to find and we do find a harmonious combination of the economy development opportunities that are available in the West and the East,” the Prime Minister of Ukraine said.

As for the cooperation with Belarus, he said that Ukraine will do everything in order to keep good relations between the neighbors.