The participants discussed key issues on the bilateral agenda, including prospects for deepening integration within the Union State.
Taking part in the talks on the Russian side were Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, First Deputy Prime Minister – Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, Russian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev, Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov and Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin.
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Beginning of talks with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko, in my very brief opening remarks I would like to say, firstly, that we are grateful to you for accepting the invitation to come here today. It is especially important today because tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the Union Treaty.
Our colleagues at the government level, the ministers and prime ministers, have conducted substantive work to analyse what has been done under the Union Treaty, talked about what and how should be done to implement the pending provisions, what could be brought up to date in view of the changing circumstances, including our relations with our other colleagues within the Eurasian Economic Community, and to discuss future prospects. I think that our meeting today is a milestone in this respect.
Thank you for being here in Russia today. I would like to express the hope that we will continue doing everything possible for our peoples and countries to feel their affinity, to continue moving forward, first of all, in the economy, of course, but also in the social sphere, which I consider to be extremely important, and to get tangible advantages from this integration.
Once again, welcome.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Mr Putin, first of all, thank you very much for the invitation, and for the wonderful weather here, in Russia.
Indeed, today is the eve of a great event – I wouldn’t say holiday – the 20th anniversary. Much has been done in these 20 years, as we all know. A lot is still to be done, and we do not hide it. You said that our governments had seriously analysed the treaty, looked into what we can do and what we cannot do so as not be engaged in unnecessary work. But you and I have addressed this issue a number of times, and as you said, often adjusted the activities of our groups, our teams on analysing and drafting plans for further integration of our states.
I watched television earlier, I watched all Russian channels and some others, read the Telegram channels, as everybody does now, and everyone in Russia is asking the question, “Why is Lukashenko going there, what has he got anyway?” I should say, Mr Putin, that we have indeed done a lot but we talk very little about what we have achieved. And we should talk about it.
We have come only to consider together the progress of the analysis, as you said, of our Treaty. We do not ask for anything and we do not insist on anything: we came to agreement a long time ago. As we develop our Treaty, people and companies must have equal living and working conditions. That is all. Equal conditions – and nothing else is needed.
We are not asking, as some say, for cheap gas and cheap oil. We are ready to buy gas for $200, and we can pay more than $63 per barrel of oil. The key is to have equal conditions. If our companies pay $200, it means the competing companies should also pay this price. Otherwise we will fail to establish a foundation for our relations. You as a researcher, PhD in Economics, understand this as well as I do. This is basically the only problem that our governments are working on.
Mr Medvedev said that there is a place to take everything we will fail to agree on. This is why we have gathered to resolve these issues.
Thank you again for inviting me here. Actually, my house is also here, behind the fence, a warm and comfortable house. You have been there and seen it.
Vladimir Putin: It is nearby.
Alexander Lukashenko: So I can say I am at home here.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.