President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko,
I am very glad to see you.
Tomorrow we have a big, serious event – a meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State. There are many issues that we need to discuss, and we will definitely do that. But before starting today's meeting, I want to once again congratulate you on the Day of Unity of the Peoples of Russia and Belarus, which we celebrated on April 2.
I must say that a lot has been done as a result of our joint work in all areas; again, tomorrow we will discuss all this. This covers our interaction in the international arena and the joint resolution of issues pertaining to ensuring the security of our states.
Of course, it is especially gratifying to note the results of our work in the economic sphere. According to our statistics, our trade has increased over the year, perhaps not to the high figures that we have recorded with some other countries, but it has increased by 12 percent. In absolute terms this is impressive. According to our analysis, it is US$45 billion, and according to yours – almost US$50 billion.
President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: With services, yes.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, with services. In other words, this is a serious result of our joint work.
And there are many other issues related to union building.
Thank you for coming tonight, on the eve of the meeting. This will allow us talk in a calm, relaxed atmosphere about what we will have to decide tomorrow and officially discuss together with our colleagues.
Welcome to Moscow.
Alexander Lukashenko: Probably a year and a half or two years ago, you and I determined that we have a lot to do as part of building the Union State. If you remember, at that moment we outlined 28 Union programmes.
Vladimir Putin: Exactly.
Alexander Lukashenko: There are heights that we couldn’t reach for a long time and still can’t reach. At your suggestion – right here in this very place – you said: if we cannot do something, let us not waste time and do what we can. And we identified 28 Union programmes – and almost 80 percent of them have been implemented mainly by our governments.
Our frequent meetings – journalists have often drawn attention to this – were aimed precisely at avoiding slowdowns in implementing the programmes. If they stumbled somewhere, and the governments faced some difficulties, we immediately met and, by making decisions, set the course for the implementation of these programmes.
Therefore, we have purposefully worked hard on these programmes for two years. And tomorrow – I noticed it while preparing for this event – tomorrow will be the first such meeting where we will talk more, summing up the results: there will be fewer problematic issues.
Vladimir Putin: Yes.
Alexander Lukashenko: Of course, they exist, they crop up more and more as we develop, and they also come from the outside.
I closely followed your trip to Tula – this was a very correct, good trip. Again: even the working class is turning us towards import substitution. You were right then, citing agriculture as an example: everyone threatened you with hunger, cold and so on – and what? Today there is a lot of grain in Russia. When was the last time there was such a huge harvest?
Vladimir Putin: Prices are falling, unfortunately.
Alexander Lukashenko: Therefore, there will be exactly the same situation in industry. We will overcome all this. And whoever hopes or predicted that we will collapse, we have not collapsed at all. Yes, it will not be easy, but when was it ever easy?
We will endure and do everything we can, even in microelectronics, although you and I, when meeting in your office a year ago, already discussed what we should do. It turns out that there are opportunities to work here too: missiles are flying and military vehicles are on the move both in Russia and in Belarus, so we will overcome everything, it will take a little time. Well, tomorrow we will sum up what we have done – we definitely earned our salaries.
Vladimir Putin: I watched and listened to your address…
Alexander Lukashenko: Oh, really, it was so long.
Vladimir Putin: The key points. Let’s discuss them now.