SVETLOGORSK, 14 February (BelTA) – Russian leaders drop hints about Belarus' merger with Russia in exchange for common energy prices. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement as he met with personnel of Svetlogorsk Pulp and Board Mill on 14 February, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that during negotiations with Russia, including in Sochi, the Belarusian side always demands equal conditions since Belarus and Russia are part of the Union State of Belarus and Russia and are members of the Eurasian Economic Union. “We demand nothing excessive,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. “But we are told Belarus and Russia are different countries. It is a hint that we should be one country. How can we become one country with Russia? You've probably heard suggestions in favor of including Belarus into the Russian Federation.”
The head of state is convinced that neither Belarusians nor Russians will ever want to pursue this policy. “For instance, you are not anti-Russians, you are normal Belarusians, who love and respect Russians. But if I ask you whether you would like Belarus to become part of Russia, 120% will say no,” the Belarusian leader spoke figuratively. “The most surprising thing is that Russians send me letters saying ‘Don't you ever become part of Russia'. But someone over there wants us to be one country, then we will have the same prices.”
The president also remarked that he is criticized for derailing integration although he had been its initiator. “What do you mean by saying integration? As far as I can understand: economic integration means we buy resources in Russia (spare parts for MTZ tractors, components for BelAZ trucks), make tractors, automobiles, and sell them on the common market. And we get equal prices. This is what integration is. What is integration at the level of people? Free movement and no borders. Pensions and benefits just as if we were one country. We've accomplished that,” Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out.
Russia has started putting economic pressure on Belarus from various angles. They even forbid us to show products at expos, the head of state noted. “They already say: join Russia, then we will sell parts to you, then prices for oil and natural gas will be different. But will they?” he doubted. “This is the question. My inability to negotiate and make deals is not.”
“Medium-income Russians like Belarus. They come here as tourists for recreation. They like it better here than at home. It is the greatest accomplishment of our Union State project. Why would anyone want to rush things? Treat us like dirt? Make us join something?” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. He also made comments in response to conspiracy theories that say that Vladimir Putin wants to hold on to power by forcing Belarus' merger with Russia. “Putin does not want that. Even if he does, he and I agreed that there can be no merger of Belarus with Russia. But I joked (there is a bit of a joke in every joke) that the merger is possible if Russia becomes part of Belarus, if the Belarusian president becomes the president of this united country. It doesn't have to be Lukashenko. It can be a Russian leader. And best of all if it was [Chairwoman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus] Natalya Kochanova, the first but reliable woman. Why can Belarus be merged with Russia while Russia cannot be merged with Belarus? If we offered this alternative to Russians, they might accept the offer,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“Remember that your president will never be the last one. You can already start thinking what you are going to do after I am gone. But even if I live and am not the president, I will fight to keep Belarus sovereign and independent. Not only for our own sake, but for the benefit of our children. They are destined to live in this country. Independence is not only about having a good life. The life can become worse. But don't worry it won't. Those times are a thing of the past. But we will live in our own land, make our own decisions. We will elect our own presidents, form the government, and enable our own conditions for our people to live. We will never be ordered around. We will pursue our own foreign policy and the domestic one but not to the detriment of our neighbors and not to the detriment of dear Russians,” the head of state concluded.