Union State needs substance over style

Belarusian PM Mikhail Myasnikovich deems necessary to raise efficiency of Union State Standing Committee
By Vladimir Khromov

At the Moscow session of the Union State Council of Ministers, the Belarusian PM noted, “The Standing Committee shouldn’t hesitate in raising issues of acute importance. It should make us meet more often. We’ve agreed with Dmitry Medvedev that our meetings should be held more regularly.”

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev added, “We should meet as often as necessary.” He believes that, alongside the Union State Council of Ministers, high-level groups headed by the prime ministers of our two countries should meet regularly. He is also keen to see the ministries of Belarus and Russia intensify their joint work.

The Prime Minister of the Russian Federation believes it necessary to analyse Belarusian-Russian trade, which has fallen by 11 percent this year, after growing in 2012. He is convinced that both sides need to reduce administrative barriers and make full use of the advantages of the Union State, while developing co-operation in all areas. He notes that he has major expectations for large integration projects in certain spheres, saying, “We need to admit that progress in some areas has been slow, yet we can achieve positive results within a short period of time in some areas.” He names high-tech spheres, especially space, as being breakthrough areas. “Belarus is a key partner for us here,” stressed Mr. Medvedev.

The agenda of the recent session was quite intensive, including almost three-dozen issues tackling the development of bilateral collaboration and Union State integration. A major issue was the draft Union State budget for 2014. According to the Russian PM, it will amount to almost 5bn Russian Roubles, with most directed towards the private sector. In particular, over 40 previously approved joint programmes are to be financed.

Answering journalists’ questions after the Union State Council of Ministers session in Moscow, Mr. Medvedev said that the shift towards a single currency for the Union State is potentially possible, but may not be immediately necessary. “We’re looking at processes on the world currency market. If we look at European processes, we can draw definite conclusions; many European partners believe that they’ve rushed into introducing a single currency across the expanded European Union,” stressed Mr. Medvedev. He underlined that introducing a single currency is a serious move and would only be considered ‘after seriously calculating all consequences’.
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