MINSK, 1 March (BelTA) – Personal connections between national leaders have an impact on interstate relations, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he answered a question of Azerbaijan's Trend News Agency about relations between Belarus and Azerbaijan during a meeting with community leaders, experts, Belarusian and foreign media on 1 March, BelTA has learned.
“As for diplomacy, politics and support for each other in international organizations, we have no problems here. It takes just one phone call by Ilham [President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev] or my phone call to him to resolve all kinds of issues. This is to illustrate what personal relations between national leaders are about and what impact they have on interstate relations,” the head of state noted.
He explained that many events, like skiing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, are part of modern-day politics. “Things were different in the past, including in the Soviet Union, and everywhere. But now it is a trend and you should follow it,” the president noted.
“Personal relations always have an impact on interstate relations,” Alexander Lukashenko emphasized.
He added that personal relations of leaders helped build the relations between Belarus and Azerbaijan. The president noted that these personal relations rely on his good friendly relations with Heydar Aliyev, the previous president of Azerbaijan, the father of the incumbent. “When I met him, we developed very friendly relations. When he died, his son Ilham became president. Thus the friendship with the father helped me make friends with Ilham. We have no problems whatsoever. In GUAM [organization for democracy and economic development of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova], they had commitments to act in a certain way when the EU and the USA imposed sanctions against us. He did not keep silent. He defended Belarus and supported it. The same is true about Mikheil Saakashvili. Whether you like it or not, he defended Belarus, in the European Union and in the USA. He has it in his nature. He tried to show them that Belarus is different, to convince them against putting pressure on us,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
“With regard to the economy, it is a pity, of course, that we cannot buy oil from Azerbaijan. There is no such logistics, for example, as with Russia. Buying oil from Azerbaijan is more expensive. But Azerbaijan has something to trade with us. This is a very rich country. During the Soviet times Azerbaijan's economy developed differently from Belarus'. Azerbaijan produced oil, the product that the Soviet Union needed. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the country was left with a poorly-developed economic sector,” the president said.
Today, Azerbaijan is developing its economic sector. “This is our major goal today. We are setting up joint automobile manufacturing plants in Azerbaijan. We help the country develop petrochemical and oil refining industries. We cooperate in the defense industry, although we are criticized by our closest ally, Armenia,” the president said.
“I know how Azerbaijanis treat Belarusians, better than anyone. May God help us preserve such relations. They treat us like brothers,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed. The president added that different religions are not an obstacle. “This is an example of a relationship between Christians and Muslims. We also have great relations with Tajikistan. I am lucky because Muslims from around the world treat me and Belarus very well, help a lot,” the president said.