President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Babich, you are leaving on a mission to Belarus. Obviously, I do not have to tell you about the importance of cooperation with Belarus, which is our main ally and partner. You are aware of how important this work is for Russia.
It is not just a country that Russia shares a border with: we are united by special ties with Belarus, including historical, ethnic, linguistic and economic ties.
Belarus is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Union. We are also building a unique format in the form of the Union State. Apart from diplomatic and economic work, you will represent the interests of Russia as a special representative. Considering your experience in various senior state posts, I hope that this responsible aspect will be successful in your reliable hands.
We will meet regularly, and you will report on how this work is proceeding. I hope you will have a positive and dynamic influence on all these processes in our interstate relations. I would like to wish you every success.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Belarus Mikhail Babich: Thank you very much, Mr President. First of all, thank you for the trust accorded me by this appointment.
As you have said, the Republic of Belarus is, indeed, our most important geopolitical and military ally. Moreover, it is our main economic partner.
In 2017 alone, mutual trade exceeded two trillion rubles. You have set the task of shortly attaining the $50 billion mark.
Of course, Belarus and Russia are fraternal nations. You and the President of Belarus have worked a great deal to build up the Union State, the highest form of integration between Russia and Belarus.
Together with our colleagues from the Russian Government, the Presidential Executive Office and our Belarusian partners, we will now do our best to implement the agreements reached between the heads of state.
You have vested me with powers of the Special Presidential Representative for Trade and Economic Relations. It goes without saying that these powers will make it possible to considerably boost the efficiency of this work. I understand the scale of the tasks that have been set and my personal responsibility, and will do everything to justify your trust.