MINSK, 1 March (BelTA) – Belarus has never lived off Russia and never will, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with community leaders, experts, Belarusian and foreign media on 1 March, BelTA has learned.
“Stop accusing us of this. We have never lived off you and never will. When people hear these statements, when I, a proud man, hear them, the desire to have any unions goes away immediately,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
According to the president, the interest rate on Russia's loan to build the Belarusian nuclear power plant stood at 4.8%, while that for Vietnam and Armenia was below 3%. Why? We have recently paid back the loan to Gref (Chairman of the Executive Board at Russia's Sberbank). The interest rate on this $600 million loan was 9% and it was issued under the guarantees of Belaruskali. We tried to find common ground, because time passed and interest rates dropped. We suggested the same interest rates as our western “enemies” or China offer, which is 2%. Our proposal was rejected. After that, I told the government to immediately find the necessary funds, down to gold and foreign currency reserves, to pay this money back,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
“What has the bank gained from it? It issued loans, received interest rate payments. You granted a loan and now you say every day that you gave these loans to these scroungers. Every year we pay a total of $1 billion in interest on these loans. Americans give Russia $10 million for the $200 billion or something that you keep there. And then, what is the interest rate that is paid for Russia's billions of dollars in America? Below 1%,” the head of state said.
“Every alley is a dead end no matter where you go. Specialists and the government of our country know it; however we do not get people involved in it. These are our issues, and it is us who should tackle them; and these issues should be addressed indeed, they are on the surface,” he said.
Alexander Lukashenko added that during the Sochi meeting, the Russian president started saying that Russia helped Belarus with loans, admitting though that there were no issues with interest rate payments, that people in Belarus are very disciplined in honoring their commitments. “It is always like that, in particular, when it comes to money. And I had to say the following: as we are the finishing assembly shop, the companies in Russia that cooperate with us employ over 10 million people, or more than 40 million if calculated with their families. Therefore, by supporting the end manufacturer, which is Belarus for you, you support your own enterprises. Even your liberals admit that,” the head of state noted.
“I apologize for being so straightforward about it. My friend, Mr President, and other friends in Russia tell me not to say such things in public. But I do it, because otherwise no one in Russia will hear that. Therefore, I have to say this in order to make people in Russia understand that we are not scroungers, that we are a friendly nation, we are ready to cooperate with you,” Alexander Lukashenko said.