MINSK, 16 April (BelTA) – Prime Minister of Russia Mikhail Mishustin has arrived in Minsk upon instructions of President of Russia Vladimir Putin in order to discuss “one of our most important problems”. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned it as he met with the Russian prime minister in Minsk on 16 April, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “I am very glad to see you in Belarus. Our meeting today and your negotiations with the Belarusian government were prompted by the proposal Vladimir Putin made when we met in Sochi and discussed a number of problems. And we encountered the problem that we will mainly pay attention to (it is not all the problems we have)”.
Aleksandr Lukashenko talked at length about his conversation with Vladimir Putin in late February: “He said he [Mikhail Mishustin] is a professor or possibly an academician. Listen to his understanding of the system he has come up with [probably approaches to the operation of the tax system because Mikhail Mishustin used to be the head of the Federal Tax Service before rising to premiership]. Belarus will need it. I told him I would be only grateful. And I asked: will it be for free? Vladimir Putin said yes, it will be.”
“This is why I am grateful to you because in order to execute the president's instructions you've come together with specialists today to discuss one of our most important problems. But it is one of the problems. It is the key word,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “I think our time was always tightly packed. Russia and Belarus have always had a hard time. Nevertheless, time forces us to resolve the problems we have.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko assured the Belarusian side is ready to sincerely and honestly discuss the existing problem because it knows Mikhail Mishustin's sincere attitude to Belarus. “I've just talked to our common friend. He convinced me so much how hard you'd worked on this problem on the eve of the visit, how you'd once again reviewed all the aspects of Belarusian-Russian relations. I listened to him for a while and then said: you don't have to convince me, I trust that Mikhail Mishustin is the kind of man to get to the bottom of these things. But he tried so hard... I will name his name later. Unfortunately, he tried to convince of what I am already convinced. I am genuinely pleased to meet with you today,” the head of state said.
In response Mikhail Mishustin said: “Today we will take a look at how we can integrate our systems. I've known Belarusian colleagues from the tax service and the customs service for a long time. They are professionals. But our systems need to be integrated because they interact all the time, there is a trade turnover. But what is integration? It has to benefit our Union State of Belarus and Russia. It is in no way some merger. We can see it as it is. We've tried to consider the possibility of this integration on the basis of the best technologies the Belarusian side and the Russian one offer. We've been preparing for this event and will be glad to show you what we could mutually offer each other.”
BelTA reported earlier that while talking about negotiations with Vladimir Putin in Sochi in detail, Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned that the two leaders had discussed the so-called roadmaps. The president explained that the majority of them are ready and can be signed right now. But it is essential to address some remaining issues. For example, the sides have long discussed the possible approximation of the tax systems. "The main thing here is to make sure everything is transparent for both Belarus and Russia in order to avoid misunderstanding or suspicions," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Speaking about the alignment of tax laws, the head of state explained that this topic will be discussed once again at the level of experts. “Putin suggested sending [Russian Prime Minister] Mikhail Mishustin to me. He wants our governments and tax authorities to sit down and explain to me the essence of the Russian proposals after working on them for about a month. I agreed. They are welcome to come, have a sit-down and then we will see what the Russian proposals are about. If this is really something new, if this benefits Belarus, we will embrace it. As Putin said, if these ideas do not find support, we will scrap them immediately. His proposal was: let's do what we can today. What's wrong with that? I don't see anything wrong with that," the Belarusian head of state said.