Working visit to the Russian Federation

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On 23 December President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko paid a working visit to the Russian Federation where he took part in the summit of the heads of state of the CSTO member states and the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.

At the meeting of the heads of state of the CSTO member states Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus has been and stays true to its allied commitments within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

“I have already said and will reiterate that Belarus has been and stays true to its allied commitments within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. We did not come to Moscow hat in hand to trade something in for something,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian President believes that the CSTO member states should do their best to promote their common position which will enhance the image of the organization on the international arena.

“The situation near our borders has never been so complicated and volatile. Large-scale risks and challenges require a coordinated policy from all of us,” the Belarusian leader noted.

According to the Belarusian head of state, in the current conditions diplomatic measures should be a primary tool for resolving conflicts and reducing tension in relations.

“The enhancement of political interaction with major universal and regional international organizations should be among top priorities,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

The Belarusian President believes that the CSTO should boost its collective security capacity. The Belarusian head of state noted that the development of the military dimension of the CSTO should not be viewed solely as the creation of its new elements. “First of all, we need to practice the management and use of the existing forces,” the President underlined. He added that the strengthening of the military capacity of the CSTO remains a top priority.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that it is the practical dimension in the CSTO operation that will secure the organization’s successful development. “The CSTO has been created and is meant to protect common interests of the member states,” the Belarusian head of state noted.

According to the Belarusian President, as the common economic space grows larger and more advanced within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, which members are now virtually identical to those in the CSTO, the importance of protecting economic interests will be pushed to the forefront. “The existing mechanisms of interaction between special services and other services can be used for that. The services are capable of putting a stop to organized criminal groups, which are now trying to find loopholes and exploit the new economic conditions for their criminal gains,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko wished success to President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, who will take over the presidency in the Collective Security Treaty Organization in the particularly important year of the 70th anniversary of the Victory over the Nazi in the Great Patriotic War. “The fateful date that we all remember binds us together not only by the common history but also by additional moral obligations and responsibility for preserving peace in our region,” the Belarusian President stressed.

He expressed confidence that the decisions that the participants of the session will make will contribute to stronger security of the CSTO member states and to the regional and global stability.

The heads of state discussed the situation in the CSTO zone of responsibility, measures to improve the collective security system, priorities of the CSTO during the presidency of Tajikistan in the organization.

During the session of the CSTO Collective Security Council the heads of state signed about 20 documents. In particular, the leaders of the CSTO member states decided to create a collective air force. Apart from that, they adopted the CSTO counterdrugs strategy that runs for the period till 2020, signed the protocol on interaction between the CSTO member states in counteracting crimes in the information sphere, adopted a regulation on the permanent operation against cybercrimes (Operation Proxy).

In the statement which was signed after the session the heads of state of the CSTO member states expressed concern over the escalation of tension, revival of the neo-Nazi ideology, degradation of mechanisms of ensuring security in the world, emergence of new conflict zones, including in the Eurasian space. The leaders of the CSTO states deem it necessary to take urgent measures to stabilize the situation in the world.

As for the situation in Ukraine, the presidents of the CSTO countries agree that it is essential to arrange negotiations between all conflicting parties, including for taking urgent measures to overcome consequences of the humanitarian catastrophe. They agree that it is needed to reestablish peace as soon as possible.

“We believe that it is crucial to prevent the escalation of the conflict, to show restraint, to use solely political and diplomatic means to resolve the conflict, to push for the observance of the Minsk agreements with a view to restoring national accord and overcoming the crisis in this country,” the statement reads.

The leaders of the CSTO countries confirmed eagerness to expand cooperation with United Nations Organization, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and other international and regional organizations, including in peacemaking missions, fight against terrorism, illicit drug trade, organized crime, illegal migration, human trafficking, and other modern challenges and threats.

The heads of state of the CSTO member states expressed eagerness to enhance the system of collective security in the CSTO and stressed that they view the organization as one of the most important instruments to ensure security, independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the CSTO member states.

The at the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council the presidents decided that Belarus will take over the presidency in the Eurasian Economic Council in 2015 and will become the first presiding country in the EEU.

The agenda of the session included over 20 issues. After the summit the heads of state signed a big package of documents aimed at the development of integration ties and improvement of the operation of EEU bodies. In particular, they determined a list of services that will be provided by the common market of the EEU starting from 1 January 2015. These include retail and wholesale trade, hospitality, catering, construction, agricultural, and other services.

The other documents specify that the common pharmaceutics and medical substances market of the EEU become operational on 1 January 2016. the common electricity market will be launched in 2019, the common oil and gas market – in 2025. There are plans to create the common financial market by 2025.

The sides also signed documents regarding Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the EEU Treaty.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that negotiations during the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council had been complicated. In his opinion, it is only natural because the range of matters regarding the operation of the EEU, which will be launched in eight days, is very broad while the tasks are ambitious.

He remarked that via open and complicated talks the presidents tried to find contact points and ways out for the most vital issues, including those that mass media have been talking about and assuming too much recently. “The fact that the presidents had to deal with 21 items on the agenda, and economic ones at that, indicates the intense work the integration platform is doing and the scale of the tasks it is handling today,” he said.

The Belarusian President believes that the benefits of the union are obvious. Therefore, it makes sense to discuss problem issues.

Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the fact that the issue associated with the free movement of goods has not been settled yet, as this principle has never been implemented in full. Belarus and Russia have not enforced the most-favored-nation principle in respect to the public procurement contracts of the other state, although it should have been done on 1 January 2012.

“You are reporters and know very well what has been going on at the Belarusian-Russian border since August 2014. You have delivered detailed reports about the multiple bilateral consultations that took place in Minsk and Moscow. Although reports about the same things differed,” the Belarusian head of state said.

“Now tell me if there is any real liberalization of trade between us,” the President asked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance of Russia (Rosselkhoznadzor) had restricted the import of Belarusian products to the Russian Federation. Moreover, the transit of commodities from the Belarusian territory has been banned contrary to all the international norms. “All of it was done unilaterally without any consultations or discussion in the Eurasian Economic Commission!” remarked the Belarus President. “Moreover, as a result of today’s talks with Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] it was revealed that it was done without his approval,” said the Belarusian leader.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that there is no clear-cut mechanism of interaction within the single customs space. “The most disheartening thing is that the Eurasian Economic Commission does not show any desire to change the situation. It looks like the Commission is shying away from addressing truly sensitive issues,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that the relations in the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space face serious challenges.

“There are questions that lack clear-cut answers for now while the answers are long overdue,” the head of state noted.

In January-September 2014 the mutual trade between the Customs Union and Single Economic Space member states totaled $42.8 billion or only 89.5% as against the same period of 2013. “If we are slow to make vital decisions at this stage, the dynamics of uniting processes may be lost and a throwback is possible, which our nations will not forgive particularly taking into account our work in the Commonwealth of Independent States. The nations will not tolerate a second CIS,” the Belarusian leader said.

Any union should work for the benefit of its citizens, stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko. “Today it is extremely important for each side to maintain a wise balance between national priorities and interstate commitments. All of us together should secure the desired effectiveness of the Eurasian Economic Commission. The potential of the Eurasian Economic Union member states is huge. Rapprochement will only make us stronger,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. “It means that advancement along the integration track should be continued. There is no other way out”.

Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined the readiness to continue the mutually equal and beneficial dialogue on any matters and said he was confident that the position of the partners will be expressed the same way.

After the session the President of Belarus talked to the journalists.

“Some mass media have claimed that allegedly the allies have come to Moscow because they want something out of this situation. They have come to pinch something from Russia,” the Belarusian leader said.

“First of all, nobody has come here for no reason at all. Our arrival had been agreed with the Russian head of state, who was the initiator of the Customs Union the way it is now. We have supported him and will continue supporting him,” the Belarus President stressed.

“Someone other than Belarus may be willing to pinch something from Russia by making demands at a difficult time. So, please, don’t put the blame on Belarus. We didn’t come here as beggars,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

He went on saying that if Russians need something and Belarus can do it, then the country will always lend a helping hand.

“Everybody was complaining that Putin will not meet with Lukashenko,” noted the Belarusian leader. “Don’t complain! I and Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] have discussed the entire range of problems regarding Belarusian-Russian relations. They were not that difficult after all. If presidents set out to resolve these problems, they always get resolved. We’ve been working as presidents for years. These problems have been resolved today as well. There is no need to raise hype about it”.

“Today some political analysts and journalists of the Russian Federation say that the year 2015 will be special for Lukashenko. The presidential election will give an opportunity to discipline him. Calm down, gentlemen! Lukashenko is not the one who can be disciplined; he is fed up with the presidency. Even if the worst scenario materializes, I will not be upset. Only the Belarusian people can discipline me,” the President said. He added that even if the whole world is against Lukashenko, he will become the president anyways if that is what the Belarusian people want.

“No matter whether someone likes me or not, it is not you who can judge me. I was elected by people. If you respect the people of Belarus, you should tolerate Lukashenko,” the Belarusian leader said.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, “the most terrible and unacceptable thing is when journalists from allied countries, one and all, make personal remarks and start insulting”. “This is truly intolerable. The most shameless thing journalists can do is to go personal and start discussing and assuming things that do not exist,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked mass media to practice a more careful and accurate attitude to the problems the Eurasian Economic Union deals with. “They are not simple. We don’t need thoughtless statements. They very negatively affect the policy we pursue within the framework of our union,” the Belarusian head of state noted.

After the top-level summits Aleksandr Lukashenko and other heads of state were invited by Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the National Defense Management Center of the Russian Federation.