MINSK, 9 September (BelTA) – During an interview to the representatives of the Russian leading mass media outlets on 8 September Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko answered a question on the possible depth of integration with Russia, BelTA has learned.
The head of state said that with regard to economic integration with Russia, the people of Belarus had expressed their opinion at the referendum, supporting it. Moreover, the parties went further in bilateral cooperation and developed the Union State Treaty. It was signed by first Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and the exchange of instruments of ratification took place when Vladimir Putin became President of Russia. “Everything was spelled out there. We went even further there. We outlined the contours. Why do we say the Union State? Those were the contours of the future Union State,” he said.
The president stated that one of the last articles of the treaty referred to the adoption of the Constitutional Act of the Union State at referendums in Belarus and Russia. “You know why we did not do it then. Back then everyone was afraid, you were afraid that Lukashenko would come and grab the ‘Monomakh's hat'. Isn't it true? Russians believed in that. We did not hold the referendum then. The situation was different. Two generations have already grown up since then. They are different. Today it is impossible to fulfill the integration which was described in the Union State Treaty. That is why the Russian president and I started to discuss the so-called roadmaps in order to adapt to the current conditions and to develop new ways of integration,” the head of state said.
“We started this ahead of the parliamentary elections (they were held in November last year). Then, there was the presidential election campaign. We had no time for that. You see what a mess started. Someone was shouting: “He is surrendering Belarus to Russia!” Someone was shouting something else. And we have stopped for now,” explained Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Speaking about the possible depth of integration, the president said: “We are sovereign independent states. Who prevents us from being sovereign and independent? We have the closest economic cooperation. Who is hindering us? We have a common army.”
“Why is someone there blaming Putin for setting up a reserve [of military forces] at my request? By the way, it has not been used, and I hope it will not. Such things, however, are written down in the treaty. If someone carried out aggression against Russia through Belarus or near Belarus (and West is our zone of responsibility is in the CSTO and the Union State), the 65,000-strong Belarusian army would enter the war. The Russian military grouping (it is also laid down in the treaty) supports us, and together with us, repels the aggression in the Western direction. This is our area of responsibility. If such things were to happen, we would immediately defend Russia. Russia has created a reserve today. Just take a look at what is going on at the external borders,” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the West needs Russia, not Belarus, which is seen only as a springboard. “The Russian authorities understand very well that Belarus cannot be given to the United States, as it was done with Ukraine. Why cannot this be done? Because it is a sanitary cordon of some 1,000km,” the president said.
He added that when he became the first President of Belarus, he prevented the plans to create such a sanitary cordon of the Baltic States, Belarus and Ukraine, which would separate Russia. “This is why the Americans hate me, since those first years. I did not let Soros here. And you were friends with him. I am not even talking about Ukraine. You were friends with him - those who were close to Boris Nikolaevich [Yeltsin]. I will not mention the names, you know them. They are still there. Ask Putin how many CIA members were in the government and the Kremlin,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
As for the depth of integration, the head of state said that there are no issues regarding economic integration. “There are no problems. The main thing is a level-playing field. This does not mean that we need to unite everything and divide it in half. This is foolishness. It will be too much for us. There just needs to be a level-playing field,” the president emphasized.
The journalists asked him about the potential depth of integration from the military and political point of view. “You know, I don't think we have to break the political system today. We have the Supreme State Council, with its functions and powers. They are great. However, the Supreme State Council does not function at its full capacity. We have the Council of Ministers of the Union State. This is a unified government. We have interdepartmental councils. They do not work as they should, however. Before building a fence and creating something new, let us use what we have. If we see that it is not enough, we will take one more step. Yet, they are not involved, they do not work. Are you saying that I or Belarus is to blame? Think about the answer yourself,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
He suggested in this respect to act so that the current political structures, which already exist, worked. “There is a consensus in decision making. Each has one vote. Two presidents, two prime ministers and heads of parliaments. This is the Supreme State Council. We make a decision and act. However, we make a decision and often do not abide by it. We have reached the point where we launched gas, milk, sweets, and oil wars. We have reached absurdity. I hope we have learned a lesson from this situation, including us, the presidents of two countries,” the president said.
As for the military component, the Belarusian leader said that the countries act together here. “Some six months ago we discussed this topic with Vladimir Vladimirovich. We decided no matter what issues we can debate, defense and security remain sacred. The recent events have proved this is to be a sacred thing for us. You remember when I once said, and you laughed then, that there may come times when you (Putin) and I will have to stand back to back and fire back. You took it as a joke then,” the president said.
“As for the things that are taking place in Belarus, we must not feel complacent. It is only the beginning, as I often say to my people. These are not the Poles. You know what forces are behind this aiming at Belarus (and through Belarus at Russia). Nothing can be simplified here,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.