Following the meeting, a number of intergovernmental agreements and commercial contracts were signed, in particular in the energy sector and on a project to build a nuclear power plant in Belarus.
The documents signed included intergovernmental agreements on the purchase and sale of shares in and the future operations of Beltransgaz, and the procedures for tariff setting for natural gas supplies to Belarus and its transportation through pipelines located on Belarusian territory.
Grigory Rapota was appointed new State Secretary of the Union State at the meeting, replacing Pavel Borodin, who is stepping down as his term in this post has come to an end.
Mr Medvedev and Mr Lukashenko held talks in narrow format before the meeting.
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Beginning of meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Mr President, friends,
In keeping with our good tradition, let me open today’s meeting of the Supreme State Council and give the floor to the host for his words of greetings.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you.
Mr President, members of the Supreme State Council, friends,
We are continuing our work to strengthen Russian-Belarusian integration cooperation. I think that all present would agree with me today that our cooperation has been injected with new energy over the course of this year. Last year, many thought that the impetus was fading and that we had run into serious problems, but this year our work has taken on new dynamism and substance. To be honest, the Russian Federation is really very pleased with these developments.
I note in particular the documents signed last week on our trilateral cooperation [with Kazakhstan too]. I think this is an excellent development that will shape the future of our economies and the Eurasian Economic Union’s creation. But as Mr Lukashenko said very clearly at the news conference, the Union State has not exhausted its potential, and the other forms of integration that currently exist still fall short in some areas of what we have achieved with the Union State. We will need to reflect on what future configuration we want to give to our other integration mechanisms.
”I am sure that the value of integration lies in the simplest things, in giving our peoples a better and more prosperous life, greater confidence and a positive mood. Strengthening security and raising the level of prosperity therefore remain the Union State’s priorities.“
I am sure that the value of integration lies in the simplest things, in giving our peoples a better and more prosperous life, greater confidence and a positive mood. Strengthening security and raising the level of prosperity therefore remain the Union State’s priorities.
We have a very full agenda today. We need to approve the Union State’s budget for next year. Despite the difficult economic situation its parameters remain at the previous level and come to almost 5 billion Russian rubles. We will spend these impressive sums of money on financing joint projects and programmes, of which we have around 40. Each of them will bring real results in terms of strengthening the ties between our two countries in a broad range of areas.
As we are examining the appointment of the new state secretary of the Union State today, I note particularly that we have advanced in our work and have reached a high level that is producing the hoped-for results. At the same time, we must continue to ensure close monitoring of the projects and the effectiveness of the allocated funds so as to obtain visible results that everyone in Russia and Belarus will be able to see for themselves.
Today, we will sign a large package of bilateral documents. Of course, I must mention the agreements in the energy sector. These are important agreements concerning the conditions for the purchase and sale of shares in and future operations of Beltransgaz, the procedures for setting the prices for natural gas supplies, and a number of other important documents that will help to develop our energy sector relations.
We were a long time reaching these agreements, which are the fruit of a lot of hard work, and I want to thank our colleagues on both sides for their active involvement in this process. I hope that these documents will help us to cover Belarusian consumers’ growing demand for energy resources, and also strengthen our neighbours’ energy security and give a big boost to trade and economic cooperation. We have good results in this area, as it happens, as we discussed just recently.
Our trade turnover has been showing dynamic growth this year, increasing by almost 40 percent over the first nine months of this year. This is the result of our combined efforts, the result of our new integration schemes, and of our desire to develop economic cooperation together. I congratulate you all on these good results. If we keep up this pace we will reach the total of almost $40 billion by the end of this year, and we all know what importance this has for our two countries’ economies.
The entry into force on January 1, 2012 of the international legal framework governing the Common Economic Space between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus will open up new opportunities for building up the business and economic ties between our countries.
”The entry into force on January 1, 2012 of the international legal framework governing the Common Economic Space between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus will open up new opportunities for building up the business and economic ties between our countries.“
Aside from the economic matters, we also have on the agenda today the discussion and approval of a number of basic documents concerning our international cooperation and regional security. I discussed these matters in bilateral format with Mr Lukashenko just before. I am referring to the programme for coordinating our foreign policy over 2012–2013 that our diplomats have drawn up and that aims to boost our military and military technical cooperation. It is this kind of close coordination that distinguishes the work of the Union State from the other kinds of integration bodies in which our two countries take part. I think it is very important to continue our active work in these areas too.
Of course, ensuring equal social standards for our citizens is also a subject of paramount importance, and we therefore consider the Union State’s 2011–2015 Social Development Concept, which we will also approve today, to be exceptionally important.
One final matter, also significant, is that of awarding the Union State Prize for Literature and the Arts. We need to support our creative people and show our respect for recognised masters in their fields and young talent too.
That is the agenda for today’s meeting. Thank you all for your work.
Alexander Lukashenko: Members of the Supreme State Council,
I am sure you will agree that today’s meeting has special significance. As the Russian President said, it is taking place at a time of historic decisions. I have always given the Russian Federation its due in this area and we have always carried on a dialogue on these matters. It is symbolic and noteworthy that this process intensified in pace on the Russian side a month ago following the publication of Mr Putin’s article in Izvestia newspaper.
That article sent the needed impulse to everyone, the willing and the unwilling, to make their positions clear and give their view on exactly where the future is going to take us. It is good indeed that we got this process moving and in the space of just a few months we were ready to sign the historic agreements that will pave the way for establishing the Eurasian Union the Russian President spoke about just now. As we said, this is something that means a lot to us indeed.
I am proud to say that we have done a lot to develop this process as part of our work on building the Union State. This is more than just an economic union between Belarus and Russia after all; it is a military and political union too. As Mr Medvedev just showed us, the agenda makes this clear. We are looking today at defence issues, foreign policy issues, and at our citizens’ social protection.
We have accomplished quite a lot already in this area. If you recall, a symbolic meeting took place in St Petersburg several years ago, at which we took decisive steps to put the relations between Belarus and Russia and their peoples on an equal footing. Even ordinary people say that when they go to Kazakhstan (we cannot judge for ourselves), the border guards there look at them from left and right, take their photo and fingerprint them. None of this exists between Belarus and Russia, and this is very valuable.
Let me reveal a secret then and say that when Mr Medvedev and I agreed to hold this Supreme State Council meeting, we decided that we would not bury the Union State project but, on the contrary, would develop it. We reached this agreement three months ago when we began preparing for today’s meeting.
We met just now one-on-one and discussed a wide range of issues and also the challenges that our two countries face today. We do not hide the fact that we face big challenges, though perhaps we do not always say so too publicly, but they are big, and we are unanimous in our view that Belarus and Russia must address these challenges together. Everyone should know this.
Today, we need to reflect seriously on the role and place of the Union State and its institutions in the overall integration architecture, so that we do not end up with a situation in which other integration areas and organisations end up more important than the Union State. I think we need to continue on the road we have taken and go further. We know that the further we go, the more difficult the road becomes, but we are full of determination to continue this work. Today’s decisions between Belarus and Russia that this council meeting will approve in the form of bilateral agreements are vivid evidence of our resolve to keep going.