President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has specified conditions for Belarus’ tighter integration with Russia as part of the Union State project, including the introduction of a common currency, unification of the tax policy and the customs policy at today’s meeting dedicated the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian diplomatic service.
“We are ready for the union. We are ready for the unification, but it is the people who should make the decision, not us. We don’t shy away from a single provision. If someone starts talking about unification with me, then the talk starts from the top: let’s have a common currency. We don’t mind a common currency, but it should be common. It should not be the currency of the Central Bank of Russia. We need an emission center on equal terms. If you talk about the European Union as an example, okay, let’s do it on the European Union’s principles. But the terms and the approach should be equal,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes him.
According to the president, the sides should borrow the best practices from Belarus and Russia.
“We don’t accept the view: we are big, you are small, do like we do,” he added.
A day earlier, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Mikhail Babich said that political integration was very important for the two brotherly Slavic countries that ‘have common territory, a common history and culture, a common language’. Belarus is the only country in the world where Russian, on par with the national Belarusian language, is a state language, he stressed.
On January 16, Russian Prime Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that the Kremlin was not insisting on creating a joint constitution, parliament court with Belarus, but a single currency, monetary and tax policy might be introduced.
At the end of 2018, the Belarusian-Russian relations significantly deteriorated. In late December there were some meetings of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader pressed for ‘further integration’ while his Belarusian counterpart insisted on reducing gas prices and getting compensation for the tax maneuver. The talks seem to have ended in deadlock.