MINSK, 22 May (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has received Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Dmitry Krutoi with a comprehensive report on Belarus-Russia cooperation, BelTA has learned.
At the beginning of the meeting, the head of state outlined a number of key talking points. They include the state and prospects for trade and economic cooperation, contacts with Russian regions, the need to resolve a number of issues, the implementation of the Union State programs as well as logistics issues related to the supply of domestic goods abroad. Another topic is the upcoming Eurasian Economic Forum that will be held in Moscow this week.
“And other smaller issues that we have always had. I know that you keep them under control. How are they resolved in Moscow, in Moscow Oblast, and in general in Russia?” the head of state asked.
Economy and trade
“Economy is the cornerstone of everything. As economists we know that there no relations without economy. I am aware of the statistics, I know that our trade has increased, and we have finally reached a trade surplus. In other words, our trade is balanced. I am interested in dynamics, trends. You remember very well as you worked in the Administration [Belarus President Administration] and in the government what was the situation in trade with Russia. We always bumped into some barriers, obstacles and etc. What has changed in this regard? It is clear what has changed. Yet, you know it better as you can look at it with a fresh eye and you work on the ground. And you can simply list those areas where changes have taken place, be it changes for the better or for the worse.
Cooperation with regions
“We have always said that our success in Russia depends on its regions. I see that you travel a lot across Russian regions. And this is right. Governors come to us. We receive them at the highest level. How are the dynamics here? What is the attitude there, on the ground, to Belarus and Belarusian products? Generally speaking, what is the image of Belarus in this vast Russian space?” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked.
The head of state noted that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet a lot. “We do this not to look at each other, although this is also important, presidents' attitudes are always important. In fact, we have tried to help governments, including you, to untie some knots,” the president said.
He asked if all the necessary decisions were made on the part of Belarus, if there were any questions for the presidents and governments. “According to government reports, there are almost no problems. I am not buying this. I see that some problems, some poke holes remain. Sometimes it is about bureaucracy. Who is to blame for this? The day after tomorrow I am meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow, and I want to use this occasion to discuss and remove those problems that should not have been in our relations,” the Belarusian leader said.
Union State programs
Another block of questions dealt with the implementation of the Union State programs in various fields. “We talk a lot about this. But I am more interested in specific programs, like import substitution and so on. Remember, Russia was ready [to allocate] up to $1.5 billion. I am sure that they have not changed their mind and if they have not provided the full amount by now, they will do it. They were ready to issue loans in order to replace the Americans, the West and other unfriendly countries that withdrew from our markets. Microelectronics is a case in point,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president emphasized that neither Russia nor Belarus could be strangled by the West. “This is largely due to the fact that Russia and Belarus decided to close ranks and move forward together. We use Russian infrastructure, like ports, railway, road transport. What are the problems here?” the head of state asked.
“I know that you have delved into this issue and you must supervise the development of our port capacities in Russia. The railway communication. What are the bottlenecks here? We agreed with Russia that we will expand them. Naturally, road transport. Coastal transportation, and so on and so forth,” the president said.
“The day after tomorrow, as I have already said, we are having the EAEU forum [the 2nd edition of the Eurasian Economic Forum and the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting will be held in Moscow on 24-25 May]. I would like to know what, in your opinion, we should focus on at the forum and during the talks within the framework of the EAEU. Being a representative of Belarus in integration structures, you probably know the situation here better than anyone,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.