Meeting of presidents of customs ‘troika’, Ukraine, high representatives of EU

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  • 8:33

Belarus is very interested in normalizing the situation in Ukraine, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the meeting of the presidents of the customs ‘troika’, Ukraine and high representatives of the European Union. The head of state expressed hope that the meeting will give the impetus for effective dialogue, search for a compromise and real steps towards the normalization of the situation in Ukraine and cooperation across Europe.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted he wished the meeting’s agenda had been more joyful. He went on saying that unfortunately, life leaves no choice and today it is necessary to discuss matters that seemed a thing of the past for Europe.

“The armed conflict in Ukraine’s east does not stop. Innocent civilians are dying. The economic infrastructure of the rich and previously flourishing country is getting destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are forced to flee their native lands. The entire region is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. These are not some old photos. It is our today’s reality,” stated the Belarusian head of state.

“Can we stay indifferent towards the ongoing events? Certainly we cannot,” said the Belarus President.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded about what had preceded the meeting in Minsk. He said that during the conversation on the Ukraine President’s inauguration day Piotr Poroshenko made a request for the Customs Union not to hurry with sanctions against Ukraine due to the country’s signing the association agreement with the European Union. Piotr Poroshenko also asked Aleksandr Lukashenko to notify the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan about his point of view. Back then, according to the Belarusian leader, Piotr Poroshenko suggested holding a meeting and discussing all the existing issues. “I have fulfilled his request. I have informed my presidential counterparts about the conversation and its content. The presidents were unanimous in their desire to get together in Minsk and invite anyone interested to take part in the meeting,” said the Belarusian head of state. He pointed out that as part of the preparations for the meeting more than one round of consultations had been held at the level of heads of state and experts, including consultations with high-ranking officials of the European Union.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the participation of two Vice-Presidents of the European Commission Catherine Ashton and Gunther Oettinger and Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht shows that the European Union is keen on resolving the problems on the agenda. The Belarusian President believes that the involvement of the President of Kazakhstan testifies to the fact that not only Europeans are concerned by the developments in the center of Europe.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that in the run-up to this event Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was asked to provide a detailed analysis of the Ukraine-EU association agreement and its possible repercussions for the Customs Union. The Russian President directed a team of experts to study the matter thoroughly. According to the Belarusian leader, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Viktor Khristenko is also ready to join the conversation. “In other words, there are no intermediaries sitting at this round table, there are no lobbyists, opportunists. Here we have the people who are interested in the normalization of the situation in the center of Europe,” the Belarusian head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that having lost a third of its population during the Second World War, Belarus cannot stay indifferent to what is going on in the center of Europe.

With Belarus holding the CIS Chairmanship this year, Aleksandr Lukashenko was asked to communicate special concerns of the CIS member states over the events in Ukraine.

“I am confident that not a single person, who is present in this hall, is intent on making a profit out of the present situation. It would be abominable to act like that,” noted the Belarusian head of state.

“Our nations have entrusted us, the presidents, with their destinies. What should we do in response to this trust? Are we to leave smoking ruins and razed homes instead of smoking chimneys of factories? Are we to doom our people to tears and suffering? It seems to me we had enough suffering in the past already. If we are to be considered responsible politicians, we should recognize the full weight of responsibility before our nations. We should forfeit political ambitions, seek no dividends, but think about the destinies of common people, the elderly, children, who cry and suffer, think about those, who have died,” stressed the Belarus President.

"Today, the worst thing is that the word “war” once again became part of the everyday life of ordinary Europeans, politicians. Common sense is pushed aside. All or most of the problems are now attempted to be solved using guns. Previously these things happened far away, somewhere in other continents, in other regions. Today, this is happening in our common home,” said the Belarusian leader.

"We are all Europeans. What do we have to fight for in our common home? We must do all we can to make sure this house remain intact. The primary objective is to stop the bloodshed at all costs, to achieve peace. War is a road to nowhere, a dead-end, which is extremely difficult to get out,” Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined.

“Spiraling mutual accusations, ultimatums and sanctions may create new dividing lines and inflict real deep wounds on the body of Europe. And this means further escalation of tensions that could lead to irreversible consequences for the entire continent," said the Belarusian head of state.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the meeting in the format Customs Union-Ukraine-EU is held for the first time. “The fact that we sat down at the negotiating table is worth a lot," said the Belarusian leader.

The Belarusian President expressed his profound conviction that the solution to the economic differences will also contribute to the settlement of the situation in Ukraine. He believes that it is necessary to work most constructively in that direction.

“I hope and believe that today's meeting will give the impetus for effective dialogue, search for a compromise and real steps towards the normalization of the situation in Ukraine and cooperation across Europe,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. He stressed that Belarus is prepared to host, at any time, subsequent rounds of negotiations, if necessary.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that about 170 journalists representing 72 media outlets from two dozen countries came to Minsk to cover the meeting. "The peoples of Europe, politicians of many countries are waiting for positive signals from Minsk," the Belarusian President said.

In this regard, he proposed the draft final document of the meeting and suggested finalizing it, if necessary, and signing it.