President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko,
I am delighted to see you. I asked you to come in order to sum up what has been done recently at the expert, government level to form the development programmes for the Union State.
We have worked hard for many months and, one might even say, for many years now. I would like to point out right away that what I hope we will agree upon today is not related to the current political situation in our countries or the political calendar in the lead-up to the parliamentary elections in Russia. This is our current long-standing joint project which, as I said, has been going on for many years.
It appears that the experts have come to an agreement on a number of key areas. What we need to do now is compare notes, draw a line under certain issues and give our respective governments an opportunity to finalise some of these agreements and do so very soon. I think they are getting together in Minsk tomorrow.
This is a major effort which mostly concentrates on the economy, finance and industrial policy, which is vital, especially now that the world is facing the aftermath of the coronavirus infection, which weighed on economies around the world with global GDP down more than 3 percent and trade losing even more.
This also encourages us to step up our efforts towards improving the competitiveness of our respective economies and to do our best to make the most of the advantages provided by the Union State in order to leave behind the post-pandemic crisis and to move forward with confidence.
I am very glad to see you and I am sure we will accomplish much today.
President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Thank you, Mr Putin.
I think we will do a good job. We probably have less to do than we did at our previous meetings. They lasted a long time – five and eight hours because at that time we were like bulldozers, clearing the way for our governments and experts. They did their part, but they kept stumbling over problems that they could not resolve or make a decision on, so we had to do some of it ourselves.
As for history, you will remember that everything started in Sochi, in Krasnaya Polyana when we had to deal with many issues. This was the demand of our nations. We were being criticised a lot for the lack of dynamics, lack of development in the Union State and at that point, and we decided to respond. We then compiled over 30 roadmaps and outlined in broad strokes what had to be done.
Working on these roadmaps later, we concluded over a year ago that we needed specific plans rather than outlines, and so we went on to our union programme.
It appears today that we are ready to discuss the final stages of 28 programmes – this is a lot, these are the main themes and areas of cooperation. You said, correctly, that we must give our governments the opportunity to review them at the expert and government levels again tomorrow. If they accept them, then we will finally adopt these programmes at the SSC, Supreme State Council [of the Union State of Russia and Belarus] – as we agreed, we will schedule the time, probably in late October.
This will be a breakthrough, probably a breakthrough in many areas – it is no secret. We will publish these programmes and show everyone the areas we are working in. But you are right, we started this over three years ago. We set our governments this goal, and I hope we have resolved it successfully.
And what matters here, of course… what do the elections have to do with this? If we did something good, let it be a gift for this big election holiday if people appreciate it. People know better because here… like all civilised countries, we are moving forward only as a union. We are homelands, close nations, practically a single whole. Our people have the same roots – Russians and Belarusians. We are doing what we must and let them judge us.
Vladimir Putin: All right. As I said, in the post-COVID period, it is particularly important to find additional resources for the efficiency of our economies.
Alexander Lukashenko: Yes, you are right.
Vladimir Putin: To make them more competitive. I think we are on the right track.
Now we will discuss all this, talk about it.