MINSK, 20 April (BelTA) – Smooth trade and economic cooperation is important for both Ukraine and Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with member of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada Evgeny Shevchenko on 20 April, BelTA has learned.
“The trade with Ukraine is estimated at nearly $5 billion. You know that we have never, even in this situation, done any harm to Ukraine. We gave everything Ukraine asked for, including electricity when there was a problem with it. It was my personal order to give as much electricity as Ukraine needed,” the Belarusian leader noted.
He recalled the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a year ago to help with fuel for field operations in Ukraine. Belarus stands ready to continue providing assistance to its neighbor if necessary. “Zelenskyy once called. Sowing was in full swing in Ukraine when the country ran out of fuel. We took fuel from our enterprises and passed it to Ukrainians last year. We help neighboring Ukrainian regions. Not as much now because of the border closure, but we are still helping. Earlier, we would go to Ukraine with our machinery to help Ukrainians with planting and harvesting. We are ready to keep doing this whenever we can,” the Belarusian head of state said.
“However, what worries me is these anti-dumping showdowns of various kinds. Someone lobbied something, others did not like it. Some Ukrainian companies whispered to the government that things are done differently in Belarus and suggested banning certain products. You know, we did not respond to that. In fact, they imposed a ban on goods worth about $300 million. What if we ban some Ukrainian commodities? You are fully aware that the European Union will not buy all this from you and will not even buy what it has promised to buy. It gives you annual quotas that you use up literally within the first quarter. Zelenskyy told me this. Well, what is next?” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked.
“I believe that being a person familiar with business processes, you understand that we should not create tensions in our trade, because trade is the base. If there is no trade (our trade is more or less balanced), what kind of relations can we have in other areas,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said he regretted the cancellation of the 2020 Forum of Regions of Belarus and Ukraine that was due to be held in Grodno: “Why did this have to be done?” he asked.
The head of state emphasized that sometimes not everything can be resolved at the level of the governments, therefore interregional contacts are very important as they help tackle certain issues faster. “A request has been submitted to supply powdered milk to Ukraine. What is the problem here? There is no need to decide it here in Minsk. Decisions can be made in Gomel, Brest ... This forum of regions was canceled. Who benefits from it? No one,” the head of state said.