MINSK, 1 March (BelTA) – Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin have no intention to absorb Belarus, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with community leaders, experts, Belarusian and foreign media on 1 March, BelTA has learned.
“The Russian president has no designs on the incorporation of Belarus or making it part of Russia. I have never heard of these plans or such sentiment. The vast country has no intention to absorb Belarus,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The president said that since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a generation has grown who got used to living in an independent state. “If we put the question about the unification of the two states or, like many want in Russia, about the inclusion of Belarus into Russia to a referendum, 90% will vote against. Not because our society is opposed to Russia. A new generation has grown up. The older generations have understood that too that we can cooperate in a totally different format, as family and relatives. Today the Belarusians want to be together with Russia but to live in their own apartment. What's wrong with that?” Alexander Lukashenko asked.
The head of state expressed confidence that Russians are not afraid of any integration unions and are ‘ready to unite even tomorrow'. “I joke in response: let us incorporate Russia into Belarus. Do you think the Russians would be against if we were serious about this issue? No. Why should they be afraid?” Alexander Lukashenko wondered. He added that, unfortunately, Russia is not always ready to follow the principle of equality in bilateral relations.
For example, when discussing the joint currency of the Union State Russia obviously has her ruble in mind. The Belarusian president said: “Today we are offered to have a joint currency. We support this idea. Of course, this will be the ruble. We have the ruble and you have the ruble. Why should we invent a thaler? The only question is not about this. This will not be the Russian ruble or the Belarusian ruble. This will be our common ruble, should we ever decide on this,” Alexander Lukashenko said. It is also important for the two countries to agree on the issue center, and Belarus is ready to discuss different options.
The Belarusian president considers it necessary to, first of all, improve the efficiency of the work in the Union State. However, the countries should avoid putting too much pressure or taking steps that would harm the situation. Therefore, during the meetings Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin discussed possible solutions to the issues in the Belarusian-Russian relations.
The Belarusian president recalled that the Union State has the Supreme State Council, the Council of Ministers, and the Parliament who are in charge of many issues. “These bodies have big powers and can deal with issues. Let's submit the issues that people are concerned over today to the Supreme State Council,” the head of state said and added that this requires step-by-step action.
“If we do not remove pressing issues in the Belarusian-Russian relations, we will not be able to talk about any big goals, any unification. We need to address fundamental matters first. Yet, the Russian authorities, and first of all the government, are not ready to go this way,” Alexander Lukashenko said. The president stated that very often the decisions made even at the level of the presidents of Belarus and Russia are not implemented. This happens not because of Belarus. In accordance with the agreements, Belarus has set up a working group to resolve problematic issues and this group is ready to start working. However, Russia is not there yet. “So far, no progress has been made in this regard. This is, however, not catastrophic for the Belarusian-Russian relations, as we have a range of opportunities and can gradually solve our problems,” the president said.