Minsk hosts the 3rd Forum of Belarusian and Russian Regions, with the President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, also holding open format bilateral meetings
Misbalance in mutual trade is the most acute issue, with both presidents noting rising physical volumes of trade yet falling monetary value (in terms of foreign currency). In recent months, the trend has been partially broken thanks to joint, coordinated efforts. The heads of states aim to use the integration potential of the Union State, with President Lukashenko emphasising, “The economic crisis should bring us — participants of integration processes — closer. We should interact on external markets rather than compete.”
According to Mr. Lukashenko, solving these tasks could help develop other integration formats. “We’ve always underlined that our structure is the most advanced within the post-Soviet space, inspiring others to follow our experience.”
Mr. Putin noted, “Of course, I agree with the assessment made by Alexander Lukashenko regarding the character of our relations. Ours are the most advanced relations within the post-Soviet space and are for the benefit of our citizens.”
The presidents continued their work at the Palace of the Republic, which hosted the plenary session of the 3rd Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia. Participants discussed almost the whole range of Union State relations.
The general conclusion is that it’s necessary to continue unification and rapprochement of legislation. Moreover, Mr. Lukashenko has proposed that we elaborate an ideology of protection and strengthening of the Union State, commencing with the removal of barriers to mutual trade, forming a single industrial policy and single market. He asserts, “We need to unite efforts to compete with foreign corporations inside the Union State and then to ‘push’ onto external markets. At the moment, we’re trying to survive alone.”
Mr. Putin continued by saying, “Belarus is our important economic partner. Half of all Belarusian goods are exported to the Russian market; probably, even more. It’s necessary to expand production, including to meet the needs of the Russian market.”
At the end of the session, Mr. Lukashenko told Mr. Putin, “The current visit of the Russian President is an important and symbolic step. We, as figures of state, recognise this, as do Belarusians and Russians, especially those from Belarus. I say this to assure you that not only we, state officials, but also the Belarusian nation sees that you have visited Belarus several times in recent months. This shows that the Russian leadership doesn’t view Belarus as foreign; we should always value this.”
All major ideas and proposals voiced during the plenary session found reflection in the forum’s final document, while the presidents finished their intensive joint working day by touring Belagro-2016, where Mr. Putin was presented with a shirt embroidered with a Belarusian national pattern, from Bellegprom Concern’s stand.
The current visit of the Russian President is an important and symbolic step. We, as figures of state, recognise this, as do Belarusians and Russians, especially those from Belarus. I say this to assure you that not only we, state officials, but also the Belarusian nation sees that you have visited Belarus several times in recent months. This shows that the Russian leadership doesn’t view Belarus as foreign; we should always value this
By Vasily Kharitonov