MINSK, 23 May (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko is on a working visit to the Russian Federation. The Belarusian head of state is set to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi on 23 May, BelTA has learned.
The two leaders reached an agreement on arranging a full-scale meeting on the sidelines of the CSTO summit in Moscow on 16 May.
Aleksandr Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin are expected to discuss the entire range of matters of Belarusian-Russian cooperation and the fulfillment of previous instructions by the two governments.
At the meeting with Governor of Russia's Nizhny Novgorod Oblast Gleb Nikitin on 19 May Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he planned to discuss import substitution matter with Vladimir Putin, adding that this was number one issue for the two economies under the current conditions.
“We have discussed the matter with the president of Russia quite recently. We will soon meet again to discuss these issues. We have already looked at what programs we need to implement. We have calculated how much money we will need on them. I have to tell you that this is not much compared to the huge machine we have in Belarus and Russia [the economies of the two countries in general],” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
In his words, the governments of Belarus and Russia have already been instructed to deal with this issue, and the presidents are going to discuss how these instructions are fulfilled during an upcoming meeting. “We have agreed with Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] to sit down and have a look. We have the program. It is the most important program for us and for Russia,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Besides, the two leaders are expected to discuss industrial cooperation: “We should decide: if we, for example, can produce good harvesters, we should unite with Rostselmash and compete with foreign models, not with each other. We should not repeat the past experience,” the Belarusian leader said.
According to the president, efficient cooperation with Russia is based on strong economic and interaction ties: “If we have these competences, then we should focus on them and link the economies this way”.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus and Russia are developing cooperation as two independent states, and the Union State integration issue should be approached step by step. “Then we will not have to shout that we urgently need a single currency, a single parliament, as if it were the main thing,” he said. “No, they keep agitating people here and there, saying that someone loses its independence, being taken over by others. Such tendencies are already in place. As if we had nothing else to do today! We cooperate as two independent states, don't we? We cooperate in every possible area,” said the head of state.