Union State Supreme State Council session

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The Union State should act as a powerful platform for advancing the entire spectrum of mutual cooperation and for providing effective aid to the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said after the session of the Supreme State Council on 25 February.

Before the Supreme State Council session Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and Russia President Vladimir Putin held a on-on-one meeting to discuss topical issues on the bilateral agenda and international issues.

The Belarusian head of state thanked his Russian counterpart for the help and support that Russia has always provided and is proving to Belarus. Aleksandr Lukashenko said he was glad that both the President and Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Minsk.

The President of Belarus reminded that the sides agreed to thoroughly prepare for the session of the Supreme State Council. The Belarusian head of state noted with satisfaction that all necessary preparations had been made.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus and Russia are building the Union State in complicated conditions. “The endurance of our integration is being tested by the global economic instability, a crisis of trust in international relations, escalating armed conflicts and information wars,” noted the Belarusian leader.

At the same time Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the current situation should not affect the placement of priorities in the work of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. Across-the-board cooperation for the benefit of the nations is the top priority.

“The constructive dialogue in politics, economy, security, social and cultural affairs makes us confident that we will reach the common integration goals,” said the Belarusian head of state. Aleksandr Lukashenko was convinced that the two countries have all the conditions for it.

“During the meeting with the president of Russia in Sochi a short while ago we confirmed our intention to step up Belarusian-Russian interaction in all areas and tackle any emerging problems,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. He added that the Supreme State Council looks into the most topical aspects of the Union State development outside the scope of the bilateral relations where such matters are handled in a routine manner.

The President of Belarus believes that the two countries do not fully use the potential of trade and economic relations. “Given the deteriorating global economic environment, this is hardly justifiable,” the Belarusian leader said.

During the one-on-one meeting the Presidents of Russia and Belarus agreed that the parties should consider the ways how to engage and maximize the use of resources of the two countries.

“It is already for the third year that our trade has been falling, unfortunately. In 2015, it declined by more than a quarter. We can and must reverse this negative trend by the joint efforts,” the Belarusian head of state.

The President of Belarus noted that any imbalances in the relations between the two countries, any inconsistencies in the economic policies prove sensitive to mutual trade. This matter was also discussed at the meeting of the Supreme State Council. “The removal of barriers to effective functioning of the single market for goods, services and capital, and the mutual support are in the zone of our common interest,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.

The President of Belarus stressed that it is essential to use all platforms and formats of the Union State for advancing cooperation and effective decision-making. “I think you will agree that there are all conditions for the harmonized and smooth work within the framework of our integration. This mechanism runs like clockwork,” the Belarusian President said addressing the participants of the session.

“Global superpowers and neighboring countries draw much attention to the foreign policy of Belarus and Russia, the military aspects of our cooperation,” the Belarusian head of state said.

“Persistent military and political crises, resuming bloc thinking in a number of countries, overall use of sanctions as an instrument of political pressure make us keep our powder dry. Therefore, today we will pay special attention to the defense sector,” the Belarusian President remarked.

Vladimir Putin remarked that the development of manufacturing cooperation, primarily high technologies, should become the key growth factor of the Union State economy. According to the President of Russia, it is necessary to make more science-intensive products and substitute imports, primarily in vulnerable areas, on which the security of the two countries directly depends. Some headway has already been made in this area. The joint production of microelectronics has been started within the framework of special programs. The formation of the common navigation space of Belarus and Russia based on the GLONASS system continues. Projects in the area of the remote sensing of the Earth are also implemented.

The Russian President believes that interregional cooperation can yield higher benefits for the economic relations. In 2015 Belarus hosted more than 40 delegations of Russian regions. Vladimir Putin thanked the Belarusian counterpart for his great attention to interregional cooperation and confirmed his plans to attend the Third Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia due in Minsk in June.

Since the Union State was founded, much has been achieved. For example, the two countries have boosted trade, bolster economic ties, strengthened cooperation in science, education and culture and built the legal framework of cooperation in various areas. The Russian President thanked Aleksandr Lukashenko as the political leader who was the founding father of the Union State together with first president of Russia Boris Yeltsin. Vladimir Putin stressed that Russia is set to continue progressive movement towards mutually beneficial equal integration with Belarus within the framework of the Union State.

The session focused on various aspects of cooperation.

After the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin approved of a number of documents.

In particular, Belarus and Russia have agreed to put as much effort as possible into increasing the mutual trade turnover, reinforcing our manufacturing cooperation ties, forming a unified industrial policy, and removing barriers and exemptions on the common market. “I am absolutely convinced that acting in new conditions we will overcome the problems that have really emerged today,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Special attention was drawn to the results of the trade and economic cooperation in 2015.

The budget of the Belarus-Russia Union State for 2016 has been approved in the amount of more than RUB6 billion. Aleksandr Lukashenko believes this decision is important given the current difficult economic and financial situation. A large share of these funds is intended for funding the Union State programs and activities in the key areas of bilateral cooperation.

The Supreme State Council reviewed the progress in reaching the priority goals to ensure further development of the Union State in the medium term (2014-2017). According to the Belarusian leader, the Council also outlined the clear guidelines for further action aimed at preserving the positive dynamics in the Union State development.

The sides also alked about results of the program on coordinated foreign policy actions of Belarus and Russia in 2014-2015 and adopted a new program to guide the work of the Belarusian and Russian ministries of foreign affairs in 2016-2017.

“The absence of any misunderstanding, mistrust in Belarus-Russia interaction in the international scene is the best way to demonstrate the Belarusian-Russian unity and strategic partnership in these complicated times,” noted the Belarusian leader.

The session of the Supreme State Council touched upon international and regional security matters. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, they have worked out a precise action plan for the Belarusian-Russian regional army group in compliance with modern standards.

“We spoke in favor of building up cooperation across the board, primarily for the sake of expanding and advancing integration processes,” said the Belarusian head of state.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said he believes that the current session of the Supreme State Council once again confirmed the exceptional importance of the Union State idea. “Time and history put every thing in its proper place. We now stronger recognize the unfading value of Belarusian-Russian friendship,” said the Belarusian head of state. In his opinion, in their time the presidents of Belarus and Russia made the right decision to keep the Union State project. “It didn’t impede anyone while it pushed us to the forefront,” noted Aleksandr Lukashenko. He added that many matters are taken care of within the framework of the Union State. These approaches will come in handy in any integration association, including the Eurasian Economic Union.

“We hope that the agreements reached at the top level will allow us to rapidly advance our cooperation and to overcome any contradictions and differences of opinion as partners, in the spirit of purely allied relations just the way the Union State should work,” stressed the Belarus President.