Interview with TASS news agency

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave an interview for the TV project dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the CIS and the TV program Formula of Power of the TASS news agency on 6 September.

The warm and sincere conversation focused on such issues as integration in the post-Soviet space and the prospects of integration associations, the Belarusian-Russian relations.

“The CIS is a big political and diplomatic platform for discussing global issues and shaping guidelines for the future. We have formed the Eurasian Economic Union. It is about economy, economic integration, and customs issues, without politics and military aspects. The EEU is an economic union,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

The head of state also spoke about the CSTO. “It is a military-political union. No, it is not like the NATO bloc, it does not have such power and strength. It is a different organization with certain tasks. Let’s assume that Belarus and Russia in the Western direction are a single army, a single union. This is the scope of the CSTO. The Union State is the most advanced integration association. It involves economy, politics. There are even fledgling regulatory bodies. It is a very deep form of integration,” the President is convinced.

“If someone is ready to join the CIS, join the Eurasian Economic Union, welcome on board. Those in the EEU or the CIS who are interested in deeper integration can join us in the Union State. All unions are open, if you are ready,” the President said. “The existing system of multi-level integration satisfies all parties at the moment. The main thing is that this association matches the current state of relations between the post-Soviet countries.”

Speaking about the Belarusian-Russian relations, the head of state said that Belarus and Russia have done a lot in order not to part ways, not to severe relations and to remain close friends in economy, in politics, and in public life. “This path is difficult, but we are going along it with dignity, even though suffering bumps and bruises,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced. “We have done a lot, more than any other post-Soviet republics, in terms of the unity so that people do not feel distraught in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. We have taken many decisions to ensure equal rights for Belarusians and Russians. We have moved away from the abyss, which could have opened up between Belarus and Russia somewhere near Smolensk. But it would be wrong if we spoke only about the positive side. We have a lot of problems too. Probably we have misunderstood Russia sometimes. Russia would cause us problems over gas, oil, would impose bans on our products. Probably we have not acted appropriately, although we tried not to anger or offend ‘our elder brother’.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also answered a number of personal questions, including a question about his dream. “You know I would like people to never think they lack means to acquire something when they look into their wallets or their pockets,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Part of the nation always lacks something. It is only natural. But I would like people in Belarus to never suffer from it. It is my only dream.”

Yet the President stressed that people should take care of their own future themselves. “Then one will be able to prosper. Here is a concrete example. Several years ago I signed a decree on developing agricultural and ecological tourism. Since then about 3,000 enterprising families have created their own enterprises, so to say. They have built villages and homes where ten, fifty, or even one hundred people can spend their vacations. These enterprising people live well. Can any Belarusian earn enough for themselves and their families if they set their minds to it? They can. It is my dream. Let me emphasize once again: I would like Belarusians to never suffer from the lack of money to acquire something when they look into their wallets and pockets. I will accomplish it,” the head of state noted.