DOBRUSH, 4 February (BelTA) – Aleksandr Lukashenko is set to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on 7 February, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he was inspecting Dobrush Paper Factory on 4 February, BelTA has learned.
“It is highly likely that I will meet with President Putin on 7 February. I believe, and I will tell him openly about it, that some moment of truth has come. We have built these good relations [between Belarus and Russia]. We were the architects of these relations. Are we the ones to break them at the end of our political career? We cannot be here forever. The question is what legacy we will leave,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He emphasized that Belarus seeks most friendly relations with the brotherly nation. “However, when you purchased Beltransgaz, you promised that we would get Russia's domestic prices within five years. Go ahead and do it. Why are you deceiving us? Actually, you are not deceiving us, you just think that we have forgotten it,” the Belarusian leader said.
“We just want fair, genuine and transparent relations. If you do not want the same, just let us know. Do not shout: “Oh, Pompeo [U.S. secretary of state] has come. He will be followed by Trump tomorrow. What are they going to do?” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Belarus is a sovereign and independent state that pursues its own foreign policy. “Has it hurt Russia? It has not,” he added.
“If some Russians are concerned about what side we are looking at, let them have a look at their double-headed eagle who looks both sides. We are in the center. Therefore, we are watching what is going on around us. We are not Russia. This is a ‘bear', a huge country. They can afford looking at the east and west and nowhere else. When it comes to us, if we miss something, our eagle will lose its head and find itself six feet under. Therefore, we are monitoring the situation around us and rely on ourselves,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Answering reporters' questions, the president mentioned energy talks. “Russians have got on their high horse and are trying to bring us to our knees. What we are asking them is: if you cannot provide us with duty-free oil within the Eurasian Economic Union (you are trying to fool us around with this tax maneuver), then sell it to us at global prices,” the head of state said.
He noted that they in Russia do not agree to that and insist on a substantial premium for companies for supplying oil to Belarus. “How do you supply oil to Hungary, Poland and the West? Without any premium. Can an elder brother treat the most allied nation in such a way?” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked.
The president stated that despite propaganda in the Russian mass media, some sensible voices warn against treating Belarusians this way.
“After all, we are not asking them for money. We have paid back the loans taken last year, we have not applied for new loans. As far as loans are concerned, Americans pay them 1.5% for keeping their foreign currency there, while we pay them from 4% to 6%. This just could not make us happier – paying $1 billion to Russia every year. They have used their money in a very lucrative way,” the head of state said.
He emphasized that now Belarus is not asking Russia to provide loans, instead Belarus suggests cooperation. “They do not want it. They want to hit us on the head and bring us to our knees the Byzantine way,” the president said.
“We are ready to cooperate. However this cooperation should be fair, transparent and bona fide. “We are not asking for any additional preferences, just the same terms as they offer the West. They have suggested that we pay $127 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas. Spot prices in Europe are under $100. We see what is going on around us and we know how to count. Therefore, stop yelling that you are providing for us. The trade shows who provides for whom. We are running a $9 billion trade deficit with Russia. In other words, they sell here $9 billion more worth of goods than they buy. Who provides for whom? Experts know that. However propaganda there is trying to pit Russians against Father Lukashenko and Belarus. Why do they need all that? The time is gone when they shouted that Lukashenko will grab the Golden Cap,” the president noted.
“Do not be afraid. We need to straighten relations. We need to pass to a new generation what we have achieved [in relations with Russia in the previous years] in a decent way,” Aleksandr Lukashenko concluded.