Mr Putin and Mr Lukashenko discussed relevant aspects of Russian-Belarusian economic and political partnership, and prospects for integration cooperation in the CIS, the Common Economic Space and the Russian-Belarusian Union State.
Mr Putin had a telephone conversation with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev after the talks. Following the conversation, Mr Putin and Mr Lukashenko made statements to the press and addressed a news conference.
In particular, Mr Putin said that Russia was ready to sign an agreement on the introduction of a common Russian-Belarusian currency but understood Minsk’s concerns. That was why the process was not to be sped up—there was enough time before 2005, when the introduction of the common currency was scheduled.
Mr Putin did not think that the common currency would limit Belarusian sovereignty in any way. To prove his point, he cited the example of the European Union, where the sovereignty of France, Germany and other countries was not limited but, on the contrary, strengthened since the economies of EU countries benefited with the introduction of the euro.
As to the prospects for a referendum on the Constitutional Act, Mr Putin considered it a technical matter. It was of the greatest importance to reach an understanding on what the Constitutional Act should be. The President never doubted that an overwhelming majority of Russians would vote in favour of Russian-Belarusian unity referendum.
As Mr Lukashenko stressed, the integration process should by no means fall below the attained level despite any problems. He reassured that Belarus and Belarusians had never spoken against the unity of the two nations and would never do so.
Mr Putin also said that he deemed it necessary for Russia to shift to market relations with Belarus in the gas sphere. Russia pledged not to offer Belarus worse conditions than those of other neighbouring countries. He thought that the shift to market relations should be made without terminating negotiations for a joint venture using the united pipeline network and on the tentative participation of Belarusian companies in natural gas extraction in Russia.