Negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Belarus and Russia need to address all the issues in the bilateral relations ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Union State Treaty in December 2019, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 18 July.
“In December we will celebrate 20 years of our Union State Treaty. I believe we cannot leave any unsolved issue behind by that time. What achievements are we going to talk about as we will celebrate the 20th anniversary? There will be nothing for us to say if we fail to settle all the issues and do not sign the program shaping the strategy of our joint actions. Therefore, I suggest that we remove all the issues by that date and approve a program that will determine the strategy of our actions and remove current problems within the framework of the Supreme State Council or any way we agree,” the Belarusian leader said.
Vladimir Putin stressed the need to continue the discussions started earlier, during the informal meeting, and to talk over interregional cooperation. “Everything is important, interesting, and promising. We have an intergovernmental commission that, I hope, will report to us on the results today. We are celebrating the anniversary this December. We, together with Aleksandr Grigoriyevich [Lukashenko] decided to take stock of everything that has been achieved within the Union State, what has not been done and why, and work out ways, acceptable for our countries, to further the integration,” the Russian leader said.
He stressed that Belarus is the closest strategic partner and ally of Russia. “We are working across all the areas, including security, military, defense and economic sectors. We see our mutual trade steadily growing, and this cannot but make us happy. Russia is the biggest investor in the Belarusian economy,” the Russian president added.
“However, some issues always emerge within such a large-scale joint project. I hope that today’s meeting will bring positive results for us and we will move further,” Vladimir Putin said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed to similar views with the Russian leader. He added: “We sometimes delay some solutions (due to both objective and subjective reasons) and have already arrived at the point when we must not simply talk but take decisions. Not only journalists and specialists but also ordinary people are expecting these decisions from us.”
“As for us, presidents, we have done everything necessary. We met numerous times: in Sochi, Moscow, other places. We have even been under fire for meeting too often and deciding nothing. We have made the necessary decisions,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“We have outlined the necessary steps. As Vladimir Vladimirovich already said, we have set up a joint intergovernmental group. The governments are working now. The presidents have fulfilled their mission, played their role, outlined everything they needed to,” he stressed.
“We have a program, a strategic document of sorts. We also have a lot of current issues. The group and the governments are aware of them. The program, according to the governmental estimates, is 80-90% coordinated,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.
“I do not want journalists or experts criticize us afterwards saying that Belarusians demand solutions to concrete issues again. These concrete issues lie on the surface. If we do not address them, then it is no use talking about any strategy. Therefore, I support the proposal of our governments that we need to address all the issues before the 20th anniversary of our Union State Treaty, before 8 December 2019. We have plenty of time,” the Belarusian head of state said.
He also thanked Vladimir Putin for a trip to the sacred sites during the informal meeting. “This was not just some excursion. Our origins come from there. Our roots are there. I appreciate you taking me there. I was thinking of how we, Belarusians, can continue the traditions of Valaam in our monasteries. By the way, we met a lot of Belarusians there,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The presidents met ahead of the plenary session of the 6th Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia in St. Petersburg. Focus will be made on the development of trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia and the interaction in the Union State.