Belarus and Russia need to address all the issues in the bilateral relations ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Union State Treaty in December 2019, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka said during Thursday’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“There will be nothing for us to say if we fail to settle all the issues and do not sign the program shaping the strategy of our joint actions. Therefore, I suggest that we remove all the issues by that date,” the presidential press service quotes Belarusian leader.
In turn, Vladimir Putin proposed to „take stock of everything that has been achieved within the Union State, what has not been done and why“, and work out ways, acceptable for the countries, to further the integration.
Belarus is the closest strategic partner and ally of Russia while Russia is the biggest investor in the Belarusian economy, Putin reiterated.
No words are needed anymore, but a decision should be taken, Lukashenka stressed. According to him, the heads of states have already agreed on the number of issues planned, now the ball is in the court of the governments. He also said that the integration program is 80-90% coordinated.
“I do not want journalists or experts criticize us afterwards saying that Belarusians demand solutions to concrete issues again. These concrete issues lie on the surface. If we do not address them, then it is no use talking about any strategy. Therefore, I support the proposal of our governments that we need to address all the issues before the 20th anniversary of our Union State Treaty, before 8 December 2019. We have plenty of time,” Lukashenka added.
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.
On December 25, Lukashenka and Putin agreed to establish a working group on the integration within the Union State. Later, the leaders of Belarus and Russia repeatedly got back to the subject.
On May 29, during the meeting in Nur-Sultan, Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka discussed the prospects of the integration process. According to Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, the leaders instructed the governments to develop integration measures by the end of June.
On June 4, Belarus’ Prime Minister Syarhei Rumas and State Secretary of the Union State Grigory Rapota met in Minsk to discuss an action plan on integration. The document needs to be prepared by 21 June. However, the details of the negotiations remain under wraps. For example, the government refused to disclose any information to opposition MPs Alena Anisim and Hanna Kanapatskaya. Oddly, Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey remained tight-lipped about the talks saying that it would be ‘premature’.
Meanwhile, opposition activists who believe that our country does not need the Union State, have launched the public campaign ‘Belarus Go!’ They are collecting signatures for our country’s withdrawal from the alliance.