President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Alexander Grigoryevich! I am delighted to welcome you to Moscow and I want to wish you a Happy New Year. I hope that this new year will bring the people of Belarus many successes, especially at this time when all countries are facing so many difficulties.
Today's meeting of the Supreme State Council [of the Union State of Russia and Belarus], which has been in the works for a long time, is a very important event. I want to point out that because we have made a number of important decisions and investigated a range of issues, we have already been able to make progress. Thanks to our bilateral relations in general we have engaged in prior consultations that will facilitate the work of the Supreme State Council today and allow it to take the coordinated decisions. I think that this is a very good thing.
Our countries have a strong tradition of energy cooperation. By this I mean our agreement on gas. It is certainly an integral part of our relations, taking into account the problems concerning gas that we unfortunately had at the start of the year with Ukraine. We are determined to make progress on issues of mutual security, including air defence. We have a number of other important items on the agenda that I hope will be implemented today. For these reasons I think that this meeting can mark a good start for Russian-Belarusian relations this year.
Once again, let me warmly welcome you to the Kremlin.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Thank you, Dmitry Anatolyevich. On behalf of the people of Belarus I also want to wish you personally and all Russian citizens a Happy New Year. For us, it did not begin very happily, through no fault of our own, since we were not responsible for the situation, but all the same everyone has a part to play in sorting out the mess. Thank God that Russia and Belarus are still able to cope with it. I think that much will depend on resolving those issues that we have identified.
With regard to the Supreme State Council, it sounds like flattery but I would like to say again for the record how important your insistence on these issues is. You have promised to consider new items for our agenda. Virtually all the problem areas in our relations are on the agenda, which I take to be a very good sign. If we continue to move forward, I think we can significantly extend our relations in every area.
I think that both the journalists here and the general public know what sorts of issues we will be discussing. Today we are determined to take key decisions in the field of military-technical cooperation, in defence range (we have to pay attention to our unified alignment of forces), in the area of economics and in finance, particularly your ideas on making the rouble a regional currency. I am confident that we will be able to examine this issue further after our meeting.
Dmitry Medvedev: Of course.
Alexander Lukashenko: In fact even Russian experts say that it could be the first step to the introduction of a single currency. I think that it's good that we have put this issue on the agenda.
There is a lot to discuss today, and I would like to tell you about some of the foreign policy measures our state has taken that experts and journalists in Russia may not approve of, but I would like you to understand what is happening around Belarus. We have nothing to hide, we are absolutely transparent and open in our dealings with the Russian Federation, and you must be absolutely convinced and confident about that.
I think that today we can work in effective and efficient fashion, and that we have a great deal to say to each other.
Dmitry Medvedev: Let's get to it. Let's work effectively and efficiently.