There must be no barriers or restrictions whatsoever in the Eurasian Economic Union. This important principle was voiced by the President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, at a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Moscow on May 25th.
At the summit, the leaders of the states first discussed the agenda items in a narrow-format meeting in the format of the five EAEU member states. Then an expanded-participation meeting took place with the participation of the Heads of the observer States to the EAEU and invited distinguished guests. Among them was Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, who attended a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council for the first time. Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon joined the summit by a video link. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez delivered a welcoming speech through video conferencing.
CIS Secretary General Sergei Lebedev, SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming, and State Secretary of the Belarus-Russia Union State Dmitry Mezentsev were also invited.
At the summit, Aleksandr Lukashenko
expressed the opinion that the Eurasian Economic Union should become one of the world’s decision-making centres, “Today’s world is on the brink of major changes, it is entering an era of large-scale transformations and strategic development. There is a growing awareness that the unipolar world order should be replaced with new decision-making centres that will take on board the interests of all participants in international relations. The attention to the events taking place in Moscow today clearly suggests that the Eurasian Economic Union should become one of such centres.”
The President of Belarus named areas in which the parties could act faster.
“We are moving slowly and with difficulty on some important issues of the internal agenda of Eurasian integration. First of all, this pertains to the development of common markets of gas, oil and petroleum products, the implementation of digital agenda and liberalisation of the transport market. Creating a genuine economic union remains a priority task for all of us. Everyone notes progress in this matter but I stick to my previous position: there must be no barriers or restrictions whatsoever! It is the underlying principle for building our union and we should reach the goal very soon,” the Head of the Belarusian State concluded.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted the great work done on the formation of a common market for public and municipal purchases, “The market of public purchases works albeit not without problems. However, an agreement on mutual recognition of bank guarantees during government procurement and rules on mutual recognition of digital signatures need to be signed and come into force as soon as possible if we want the market to develop... Our response to the sanctions is stepping up cooperation with the SCO, BRICS and ASEAN, new trade agreements as well as constructive and mutually beneficial contacts with everyone who is ready to be our friends and partners... Due to the turning of our export flows to the southeast, it is necessary to reach out to countries of this region through joint efforts. It is a bottomless market for our goods.”
At the same time it is necessary to enable equal access to the existing infrastructure and emerging infrastructure in order to avoid unpleasant situations in the future. The export of timber via territories of EAEU member states to third-country markets was mentioned as an example.
The President also believes it is advisable to revisit the matter of liberalisation of transportation by road to third countries without the need to obtain special permits.
The Head of the Belarusian State touched upon a relatively new, but very relevant aspect of Eurasian integration — the EAEU climate agenda.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the European Union has been actively preparing for trade in the current conditions for a number of years. The mechanism of cross-border carbon regulation being developed by the European Union will become a serious tool for influencing international trade.
“The European Union will have an additional room for manoeuvre. Goods recognised as ‘clean’ will be allowed to the market and those that are not in demand in their market will simply be blocked. They know how to do it,” the Belarusian leader noted.
In this regard, the Head of State urged to unite efforts within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and develop their own approaches and measures to respond to climate challenges. We need to move towards the structure of the economy which is dominated by industries and technologies with low greenhouse gas emissions.
Aleksandr Lukashenko is confident that the experience of the Union State can be in demand in the development of the EAEU.
At the end of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting, the leaders of the countries signed a dozen and a half different documents, including a protocol to amend the provisions of the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty on funding joint projects in the manufacturing industry, as well as a package of amendments to the EAEU Treaty — the so-called III Big Protocol.
Traditionally, a lot of attention from journalists was riveted to the President of Belarus. Before the start of the summit and after it, media representatives asked Aleksandr Lukashenko to answer a number of topical questions.
The Head of State commented on the statements in Poland about the alleged uprising in Belarus, “We are keeping an eye on these people that this confused Polish general was talking about. They say they are putting together regiments or battalions. At least they proclaim that they are doing this. But in fact... We know where they are. We know them by name. We’re ready. Let them come... Unfortunately, they do not hear what I say. A few months ago I said that they were preparing an uprising, a revolution... whatever. We have known for a long time that they are up to something, perhaps preparing another revolt.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko also shared the details of his brief exchange with the President Vladimir Putin at the Eurasian Economic Forum the day before as Kazakhstan leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made a remark about "nuclear weapons for two" with regards to Belarus and Russia.
At that point, the leaders of Belarus and Russia smiled, had a brief exchange and shook hands. The Head of State was asked to tell what was discussed, “That’s easy. When the speech came to a remark about nuclear weapons, I, to be honest, didn’t catch it due to the acoustics in the hall. Vladimir Vladimirovich turned to me and said that a decision had been made to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. That was what he told me. I said, ‘Thank you!’ That was it. That’s that on that.”
The President of Belarus later answered the same question to another group of reporters, “He told me he had signed a decree on our actions concerning the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus. I mean a concrete document was discussed. A decision had been made in furtherance of a verbal discussion. We had to prepare storage facilities and the rest over there [in Belarus]. We’ve done all of that. This is why the relocation of nuclear munitions began.”
The Head of State was also asked a question concerning efforts to ensure the security of nuclear weapons.
“It is even out of the question. You know that we are punctual, accurate, and businesslike people as you say. This is why don’t you worry about nuclear weapons. We bear responsibility for it after all. It is a serious matter. Everything will be fine here, too,” Aleksandr Lukashenko assured.
Reporters asked the President about possible provocations from the Polish territory and whether the border of Belarus and the Union State of Belarus and Russia is safely locked in this direction, “You don’t have to worry about that. Listen, if infiltrators have to penetrate your or our territory, there are many ways of doing it inconspicuously today. I mean, it can be done without crossing the actual no man’s land. I am saying it as a professional. This is why talks claiming that infiltrators can penetrate our territory if the border is not secure are unprofessional... Infiltrators use other ways. None of the infiltrators we have apprehended in Belarus had to go across our border. Therefore, there is no need to worry about border security.”
Let us remember that on the eve of the EAEU summit, Aleksandr Lukashenko, together with his colleagues, took part in the plenary session of the 2nd Eurasian Economic Forum in Moscow.