Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka will be on a working visit to the Russian Federation on July 17-18, the presidential press service reports.
On July 17, the leaders of Belarus and Russia are expected to hold an informal meeting. A week ago, Lukashenka said that it might take place on Valaam Island. It has been confirmed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, news agency TASS reports.
On July 18, Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka will take part in a plenary session of the Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions.
“They will focus on the development of trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia. The parties will also discuss cooperation within the framework of the Union State,” the statement said.
When meeting with State Secretary of Union State Grigory Rapota, the Belarusian leader blasted independent mass media for ‘conspiracy theories’, i.e. assuming that some secret agreements would be reached during the upcoming trip to Valaam.
“We are not going to make some secret decisions on Valaam. It was a proposal of the Russian president. It is a sacred place of the Russian Orthodox Church. I just have to visit the place. I am grateful that he will personally show me around and tell me how the place is being restored and what has been done. Nothing secret,” the Belarusian leader stated.
According to him, there are many issues that need to be addressed. The sides ‘painted ourselves into a corner and do nothing to get out of it’, 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 StateGrigory 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 prime Minister Uladzimir Makey remained tight-lipped about the talks saying that it would be ‘premature’.
Vladimir Putin also promised to discuss the topic of ‘close integration’ with president of Belarus on the sidelines of the 6thForum of Regions of Belarus and Russia on July 18 in St Petersburg.
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.