President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
We are happy to see you, this time in St Petersburg.
Today we have another important and pleasant event with our colleagues from integrational organisations.
Recently, on December 8, we marked the 20th anniversary of the Union Treaty. First of all I would like to note that although many things – we have spoken with you about this – have not been done under this treaty, there are significant results.
When we began this process, our bilateral trade was $9 billion. Today it amounts to $35.5. This is a significant result. Besides, there are issues resolved in the social spheres and people are getting good support.
And, of course, the experience we have acquired together, I mean between the two countries as part of this interstate building, is widely used in forming integrational organisations, such as the EAEU. So this also has a prolonged effect for us and our partners.
I know that our colleagues have been working actively since our previous meeting. We are very happy to see you so we can continue this discussion.
President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Yes, Mr President, a lot has been accomplished.
For some reason, we do not always say what has been accomplished, and how much has been accomplished. True, we have accomplished a lot in the social sector, for our people, but we can also boast many economic achievements as well.
You mentioned the main statistics, namely, trade volumes, but we have established a common defense infrastructure, as well as one for the operation of our secret services that maintain contacts.
We have always stated that we have no questions for our diplomatic agencies, and we have a common border and a joint customs system in the west. Today, 110 million tonnes of freight are delivered from the east to the west and vice versa via Belarus.
We have a joint customs system, a common border, a joint air defence system, and Russia and Belarus have established a joint army group in the western sector.
Russia has no problems overflying Belarus, and we always provide decent air traffic control. Belarus and Russia have never had any disagreements on air traffic matters. Our airports in Moscow and Minsk and elsewhere function very efficiently. They also cooperate well with our regions.
In addition, as I have already mentioned to you, our company, Belarusneft, has resumed operations in Russia and already provides services to various companies. It not only reactivates old fields using various technologies; Belarusneft has been going strong since the Soviet era. It already produces oil in the Russian Federation together with other companies. In other words, there is huge progress in the economy.
Speaking of people, Belarus now buys Russian-made raw materials and components. Over ten million Russians work at Russian companies with which Belarusian companies maintain contacts. Speaking of families, we usually multiply by four. Just imagine, how many people are involved in our mutual trade and joint co-production arrangements.
Therefore, generally speaking, we have not drifted far away from each other in economic, political and social terms after the breakup of the Soviet Union. This, too, is a major achievement of this Treaty. We have failed to implement its provisions, but we have not drifted away completely, as is the case in Russia’s relations with other former Soviet republics, and not just the three Baltic states and Ukraine. This is what we have accomplished in the past few years.
As you have noted correctly, we have a lot of work to do.