Meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkevics
Belarus is determined to strengthen economic ties with Latvia, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkevics on 26 July.
Top on the agenda were economy and trade. The bilateral trade of nearly $600 million is too small taking into consideration the capacities of the two countries, Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.
“I would not want politics to dominate the economic agenda; however, if some countries do not understand us and if this affects the Belarusian economy, we will look for better options. I am very glad that we have no big problems with you, your country, the leadership and people of this good Baltic country. Indeed, you cannot disregard the position of the European Union. I understand the situation there; 28 countries and many are not happy about the procedures they have to abide by in their relations. Nevertheless, you still find an opportunity to build balanced and decent relations with your neighbor Belarus. I understand and appreciate it,” the head of state said.
The Belarusian leader assured that Belarus will scale up cooperation with Latvia, in particular in trade and economy, because this is the foundation to build a political and diplomatic framework. “We will deepen our trade and economic cooperation, if you are ready for that. We will step up our efforts in this regard in the interests of our countries,” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that he is going to see today’s Riga in the near future. He noted that Belarusians visiting the Latvian capital are amazed by what they see. The Latvian foreign Minister has the same impressions of Minsk, which is obvious from his statements made during the ongoing visit. The President said that the main goal of the Minsk development concept is to create comfortable living conditions for local residents.
“We want good relations with Western Europe, with Europe in general, the European Union, the United States. As a person who has been in politics for many years, I understand it. I know what the EU and America are about, but we will never ruin our relations with brotherly Russia,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
The head of state continued: “This is our Russia, our people who respect us. The Belarusian President has an approval rating in the multinational Russia at over 60%. Why should we give a cold shoulder to the country that has lent us a helping hand in difficult times. But this doesn't mean that we are ready to give up on our relations with the West, the East, the People's Republic of China, with which we have good relations and common interests. This will never happen. You understand this. I am telling you this publicly and openly. I want you to understand our policies,” the Belarusian President said.
“I want you to understand and ignore various speculations suggesting that we are back-and-forth, that we depend on someone. The world is interdependent: you depend on someone, we depend, someone depends on us. I can say the same about Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. We are small states, though there are no small states because all nations are equal, small or large. We proceed from this. A state that is huge in terms of area or population, cannot dictate terms to someone, I totally reject it,” the President said. He stressed that this is the essence of independence of Belarus. “This is something that the Baltic states, including Latvia, always advocate for. You can be sure that you deal with a sovereign independent state. This is how it will always be, at least as long as I am President,” the head of state noted.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he is grateful for the invitation to visit Latvia and will surely undertake such a trip. A visit should yield goods results and this requires thorough preparations. He asked to convey his best wishes to the leadership and people of Latvia. The President also said that Belarus is always happy to host representatives of Latvia.