President OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Lukashenko, I welcome you to St Petersburg.
It is a good thing that we have regular meetings at all the different levels, but today is a special day in that we are holding interstate consultations and our respective prime ministers and colleagues from the various ministries and agencies will be taking part in the joint work.
We will have the chance today to analyse the work we have done on building the Union State over the recent period, and will examine our next steps. I am sure the discussion will be interesting and substantive.
It is a great pleasure to see you. Welcome!
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Thank you, Mr Putin.
You quite rightly noted that there is nothing else in terms of our cooperation ties and contacts like this format in which the presidential bodies at the highest level, as well as the prime ministers, ministers and other officials of various levels all take part together. This is certainly very useful. There are a dozen very important issues that we cannot solve without going through the Supreme State Council, and this is why we are here today in this beautiful city.
We Belarusians love this city very much and it is very close to our hearts. After the war, the main specialists came to Minsk from here, and it was here that Belarusian science had its beginnings. We therefore feel very close ties with St Petersburg’s people and it is a pleasure to be here. I think that we will be able to make progress in our relations.
Vladimir Putin: The atmosphere will help us, and the weather is good today. We had the chance just now to see around the Gulf of Finland. I think this good atmosphere will help us to produce some positive results at today’s meeting.