The two presidents considered key aspects of cooperation between their countries, giving special attention to prospects for further trade and economic cooperation and collaboration between regions, to deepening integration in energy, transport and construction, and cooperation in the social sphere and high technology areas. They also spoke of closer foreign policy coordination between the two states.
A package of documents was signed after the Supreme State Council meeting, including a protocol to ensure equal rights of citizens of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus to freedom of movement and choice of residence on the territories of the Union State member-states.
The Supreme State Council made a number of decisions pertaining to the Union State budget, the implementation of earlier agreements and the main issues to be considered at Supreme State Council meetings in 2015. The meeting also passed a Resolution On Priority Areas and Targets for Further Development of the Union State for the Medium Term (2014–2017).
Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko also made statements to the press.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko, colleagues,
On December 8, 2014, we marked an important date – the 15th anniversary of the Treaty to create the Union State. This strategic document laid the foundation for close integration between our countries and gave a strong impetus to the development of Belarusian-Russian relations.
During these years, the Union has demonstrated its viability. We have created a significant contractual legal framework. We have executed over 150 agreements regulating practically all aspects of bilateral cooperation. Our successful collaboration within the Union State has helped enhance integration on the entire CIS space. I fully agree with what Mr Lukashenko has just said about this. Yes, many aspects of the Russian-Belarusian cooperation experience were used during the establishment of the Customs Union, the Common Economic Space of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and later in the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union, which became fully operable as of January 1 this year.
I am certain that the Union State will continue to play an important role, particularly as a ‘testing range’ for promising integration projects and models.
The development of economic ties remains our absolute priority. I would like to remind you that Russia accounts for almost 50 percent of Belarusian trade, while Belarusian business ranks fifth in Russia’s trade turnover, after China, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.
At the same time, as the President of Belarus has also just said, our mutual trade turnover has somewhat gone down in the past year to $37.6 billion.
I would like to note that together with our partners in Belarus we have managed to promptly counteract the unfavourable trends in trade. In January, the appropriate ministries formed working groups to analyse macroeconomic aspects and exchange forecasts.
Mr Medvedev told me that the prime ministers have just approved a large-scale Action Plan to create additional conditions for the development of trade and economic cooperation. We have drafted a list of joint measures to simplify mutual access to markets of goods and services in Russia and Belarus and expand the participation by suppliers in the two countries in state purchasing.
Another important document that we are to consider today is aimed at further strengthening our integration. This is the draft Supreme State Council Resolution on priority areas and targets of the further development of the Union State in the medium term, for 2014–2017.
Collaboration between regions is to play an important role.
Belarus retains its leading position in the CIS in the volume of Russian capital investment. As of December 2014, it amounted to $6.3 billion, of which $5.1 billion is direct investment. Over 2,700 companies with Russian capital operate in Belarus.
Our major investment project – the construction of the Belarus nuclear power station – is proceeding on schedule. Experts say this is a model construction site. The first block is to be commissioned in 2018.
It is important that industrial cooperation between our two countries is becoming more structured in nature. We are about to create a common innovation space. Our cooperation in applied space studies, bio- and nano-materials, and supercomputers is making progress. The further development of cooperation in high technology areas has been supported by significant financial resources, including those from the Union State budget. These funds will be used to implement 36 joint programmes and projects in knowledge-intensive areas, as well as the humanitarian and social spheres.
A traditional priority on the Union State’s agenda is closer foreign policy coordination and ensuring the security of our states and peoples. I would also like to note the significance of joint efforts on issues of migration. We have actually already created a single migration space on the territories of Russia and Belarus. Our citizens are free to travel between the two countries using their internal national documents, without any customs or border control.
Within the framework of this Supreme State Council meeting, we will take additional measures to simplify migration procedures. We will sign a Protocol to the Agreement on the Equal Rights of Citizens of Russia and Belarus to the Freedom of Movement.
Colleagues, we are to arrange gala events to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory. This includes the participation of Russian servicemen and military equipment in the parade on May 9 in Minsk, as well as numerous concerts, festivals and student competitions.
For our people the Victory Anniversary is a solemn event. Our duty is to make sure we celebrate it with dignity.
Thank you for your attention.