President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko, friends,
We are delighted to welcome you to Moscow ahead of the New Year. As agreed, we are meeting just a few days before 2019.
Overall, I believe that our relations have been developing quite well. Last year, our bilateral trade increased by over 23 percent to exceed $32 billion. This year, it grew by another 12 percent. This means that the yearend figure will be greater than last year.
Belarus has accumulated a substantial amount of Russian direct investment, which has reached some $4 billion. Most importantly, our relations are diversified and are developing in the industry and agriculture, both of which are growing.
Of course, there are some problems, which is natural given the extensive scope of our interaction. Most of them concern energy relations, although we believe that we have accomplished a great deal in this sphere as well, especially within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, but also in bilateral relations.
Today we have an opportunity to talk about all these topics. Our colleagues have held consultations to prepare this meeting. I suggest that we listen to both sides even if we fail to reach any final agreements. But it will be excellent if we reach them.
Anyway, I believe that there are reasons to be satisfied with our bilateral relations and that we must do our best to prevent any future complications. Despite the problems we are facing in these spheres, we have always managed to find acceptable solutions.
We are delighted to see you. Welcome to Moscow.
President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Thank you, Mr Putin.
Indeed, we keep our word. We agreed at our meeting in St Petersburg not to make a mess of our talks, because we had too much on the agenda and there were very many people involved. We agreed to resume our conversation in Moscow.
We are grateful to you for choosing the time for our meeting here to discuss the issues we need to discuss in light of the many problems in our relations, which, to tell the truth, are very advanced and close. No other peoples have closer relations than Belarusians and Russians.
We are moving forward, just as we agreed. It is natural that we encounter certain problems on our way, but they are incomparable to our achievements, which we have enumerated in figures. And you have said just now that we can come to an agreement.
I can tell you more. We can really come to an agreement because the teams we have with us now have held a round of talks and they have studied our problems thoroughly. You and I know every detail of the problems and issues we need to discuss today. Of course, it would be great if we settled them now so as not to drag them over into next year, because it is bad when old problems continue into next year.
I would like to congratulate you on the wonderful conversation you had with Russian citizens. All Belarusians, including myself, listened to that news conference and saw the reaction of Russian society to the problems you outlined. They are important for us as well, because we are deeply involved in global developments.
If we have any problems, I believe – let us be honest – that their causes are not here, and we are not to blame for their development. We are involved in this global process, and so the current problems in global trade, economy and politics, as well as in military matters, concern us as well, one way or another. We do not want to be involved in these problems, but we are and so we have to resolve them.
I would like to have fewer problems for us or our ministers and governments to deal with, but some of these waves reach us as well. And it is our destiny to deal with them. I believe that, being aware of these problems, we will once again find a solution that will be acceptable to both Belarusians and Russians.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
I suggest the following procedure: first we listen to what our colleagues have worked out and then we will give them more time, if necessary. And I would like to separately invite you to a working lunch afterward.