Meeting with State Secretary of Union State Grigory Rapota

  • 1
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with State Secretary of the Union State Grigory Rapota on 9 July.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that all emphases have been moved to the top-level in the Union State today. It is expected that many issues will be addressed at the level of the presidents. “These include hoary tales about the operation of a joint taskforce,” the President said. “Of course, there are big issues of paramount importance, and we decided to incorporate them in the Union State program of action. But we also have other pending issues, and if we do not address them, it will be useless to speak about any integration and programs.”

“The thing is that that President Putin and I agreed that we will not destroy the treaty. If we start doing it, we will ruin everything that has been created throughout the time. This is the first thing. The second is that the treaty has not been implemented in full. It is still relevant. Therefore, the presidents decided not to touch the treaty and just work out documents, materials (we called it the program of action concerning further integration of Belarus and Russia within the framework of the Union State treaty),” the Belarusian leader remarked.

“We have determined the framework, points, bench marks, placed flags, as hunters say, to outline the range of work. We specified things that cannot be implemented today. We answered the main question which, as you know, was discussed everywhere (I don’t know for what purpose): will Russia become part of Belarus or Belarus part of Russia or not. We answered that it makes absolutely no sense today. It makes no sense even to talk about this thing. Putin answered this question. So did I. There is no need to do it. The same about some other issues. We decided to move step by step in order to implement the provisions of the Union State treaty,” the head of state emphasized.

“We need to address current issues in the cooperation with Russia which are many. For example, the access to the Russian market has been closed for some 80 Belarusian enterprises by Rosselkhoznadzor or some other agency, or the government. Most likely the government. Moreover, this is done on the far-fetched pretext. You can justify any decision. This is one of the issues for example. If we build relations in such a way, them what common currency or unification we can talk about today... We should sort things up. This is not the way relations between the two states should look like,” the head of state noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko gave another example: access to government procurement programs. “We need equal conditions for everybody, enterprises both in Russia and Belarus,” he said.

“Or industrial cooperation which we talk a lot about. Or the tax maneuver which was tossed instead of customs duties, though we agreed that there would be no customs duties in the EAEU or in the Union State. The time to negotiate terms of the supply of natural gas and oil in future has run out. This is a great amount of issues which are not addressed. We agreed that while addressing the strategic issues we will be tackling tactical issues, which are on the surface and require immediate action,” the Belarusian leader noted.

“Without solving these issues there is nothing to talk about, on our part. Problems are many,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

“You just have to oversee it. And you should take part in these negotiations as the head of the Union State administrative office,” Aleksandr Lukashenko told Grigory Rapota. “I mean we’ve had so many negotiations and yet today I get reports… Promises only. The negotiation team has stumbled upon some issue – the Russian government, including Prime Minister Medvedev, promises to give all the instructions, orders in order to address issues as a package. Because they stick to a negotiation tactics of making promises and forgetting them. So these processes are being slowed down for some reason.”

“Why do I have to drag these matters into the limelight? Because I will have to meet with President Putin in St Petersburg soon. And we will have to discuss results of these negotiations. But there is nothing to discuss as of today. This is why I would like you to oversee this matter and make it clear to the Russian side that we have to come up with some results virtually within several days. So that we could work out an agenda and discuss it with President Putin in St Petersburg on 17-18 July. I don’t think we can just meet and sit with each other saying nothing. Time for that is already gone,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that many mass media, particularly opposition ones, are hotly debating the topic regarding the planned trip of the two leaders to Valaam Island and assume some secret agreements would be reached during the trip to Valaam. “We are not going to make some secret decisions on Valaam. It was a proposal of the Russian President. It is a sacred place of the Russian Orthodox Church. I just have to visit the place. I am grateful that he will personally show me around and tell me how the place is being restored and what has been done. Nothing secret,” the Belarusian leader stated.

“Since there is no progress and we say nothing, then conspiracy theories come to the forefront. You know how it happens. This is why there are many issues that need to be addressed. Including the schedules for the meetings of our supreme bodies – the union government, the Supreme State Council. I think we have to come to terms here and then formalize these documents at a session of the Supreme State Council. But the Union State Council of Ministers should take a look at them first. There is no time at all. We’ve painted ourselves into a corner and do nothing to get out of it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko concluded.

Grigory Rapota agreed with the President’s statement, but remarked that there are no representatives of the Permanent Committee in the taskforce. “There is one detail. The Permanent Committee [of the Union State] is not included in the taskforce [concerning the integration of Belarus and Russia]. Therefore, it is very difficult for us to comment on their agreements. I am in the know in general, but it is difficult for me to specify on any agreements or lack of agreements,” he said.

At the meeting the Belarusian President, who is also the chairman of the Supreme State Council, instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to address the issue of the Permanent Committee’s participation in the operation of the Belarusian-Russian taskforce