President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,
Our talks with Mr Lukashenko and the Supreme State Council meeting all took place in an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding, as usual.
Fifteen years ago, Russia and Belarus made the strategic decision to create a Union State. The citizens of our two countries have already benefited from this project. Of special importance is the fact that it has become one of the pillars of the overall architecture of Eurasian integration.
Today we had a detailed discussion of the entire range of issues pertaining to Russian-Belarusian cooperation, giving special attention to prospects for the further development of trade and economic relations.
We noted that in recent months, due to the influence of the unfavourable situation in the global markets – the drop in oil prices and sharp fluctuations of the exchange rate – there was a certain drop in mutual trade, by about 5 percent in 2014. We are taking special measures to overcome this situation and ensure stable dynamic business cooperation. Our governments have adopted an Action Plan to create additional conditions for the development of trade and economic relations. This, in effect, is an anti-crisis plan aimed at strengthening integration between Russia and Belarus. Naturally, this document will be implemented with due account of our commitments within the Eurasian Economic Union.
We expect a serious practical outcome from the decisions made at today’s Supreme State Council meeting. Primarily I am referring to the Priority Areas and Targets for Further Development of the Union State for the Medium Term. We expect that their stage-by-stage implementation will help create new modern production facilities and jobs and improve the transport infrastructure of our two countries.
Another area that remains a priority is enhancing mutual investment. Belarus is a leader in accumulated Russian capital investment, with a majority in the real economy.
We agreed to enrich our collaboration with new projects in the energy industry, automobile manufacture and electronics. We will continue government assistance to programmes in the area of high technologies. Almost half of the funding approved today for the 2015 Union State Budget is allocated for these purposes.
A joint project I would like to give special mention to is the construction of the Belarus nuclear power station. Russian loans account for 90 percent of this $10 billion contract. Construction is proceeding on schedule. The first block is to be commissioned in 2018.
It is important to fully use the potential of inter-regional cooperation. Last year the first Russian-Belarusian inter-regional forum took place in Minsk, to focus on the agriculture industries of the two countries. The second such forum, to be held in Novgorod this year, will focus on our industrial policy. We expect these meetings to become regular.
We pay significant attention to joint efforts in the social sphere. Today we amended the Agreement on Equal Rights of Citizens to Freedom of Movement and Choice of Residence. In addition, applications for resident status from citizens will be considered within three months. This will undoubtedly further strengthen out contacts. We also approved a number of agreements pertaining to migration, mainly the technical aspects of the collaboration between corresponding agencies. We agreed to continue our work to create a single visa space. With this aim in view we intend to draft an agreement on the mutual acceptance of entry visas granted to citizens of foreign states.
We naturally touched upon international and regional matters as well. We spoke of the situation in Ukraine. I would like to note Mr Lukashenko’s efforts to assist in a settlement of this crisis. We are grateful to him for the organisation of the recent Normandy Format negotiations in Minsk, which were complicated but absolutely necessary.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Last summer we celebrated the liberation of Belarus from Nazi occupation. The current Supreme State Council meeting took place on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory. Side by side, our people fought against Nazism, enduring hardships, but never giving in to the aggressor. They managed to not only drive the enemy from their own territory, but also liberated many European countries and peoples from the brown plague.
We will always honour the heroism and bravery of the Victory Generation and thank them for our freedom and independence, for the opportunity to live and develop. We will do everything necessary to celebrate this solemn Anniversary in a dignified manner.
In conclusion, I would like to once again thank our Belarusian colleagues for their interested and businesslike approach to our work today. I am certain that our talks will contribute to further strengthening the Union State of Russia and Belarus.
Thank you for your attention.