Press statements following meeting of the Russia-Belarus Union State Supreme State Council 2013-03-15 18:30:00 St Petersburg President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko, colleagues, As always, the Supreme State Council meeting was held in a business-minded atmosphere. We looked into many current issues in our bilateral cooperation. During our separate meeting with President of Belarus, we paid particular attention to integration processes within the CIS. We are all well aware that the Customs Union and Common Economic Space are developing; however, our joint work in the Union State format allows us to evaluate the most promising areas for our cooperation. At the same time, our main goal is to speed up our nations’ socioeconomic development and improve the lives of our citizens. We had a detailed discussion about opportunities for increasing trade, economic and investment cooperation. In 2012, turnover between Russia and Belarus grew by 10 percent and came very close to the record high of $45 billion. We plan to keep on increasing mutual trade and believe that soon, we will be able to hit the $50 billion mark. Russian businesses are actively investing in the Belarusian economy, with cumulative capital investments of over $5 billion. These are basically direct investments into the real sector of Belarusian economy, into new productions and new jobs. We agreed to continue to put a priority on working to strengthen our economic partnership as one of the foundations of the Union State. We approved the Union State budget for 2013, which is nearly five billion rubles (4.8 billion). It is a development budget. This development allows us to increase the competitiveness of the Russian and Belarusian economies. The money will go toward financing promising programmes in science and technology cooperation, and the humanitarian and information sectors. Our nations are implementing large-scale projects in a wide range of areas: energy, aerospace, and high-tech. Our most important joint investment project is the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus. Works on the site are proceeding according to schedule. We plan to put the first plant unit into operation in 2018, and the second in 2020. This is a major Russian investment, totalling as much as $10 billion. The process of creating technological alliances between our nations’ companies gains momentum, which I feel is particularly important. We have begun forming the Rosbelavto holding company, which will include the leading enterprises in the Russian and Belarusian automotive industry, KAMAZ and MAZ. The creation of a joint earth remote sensing system based on Russia’s GLONASS, with ground control centre in Minsk, is in full swing. Russia and Belarus will work together to explore and develop Antarctica. We just signed a corresponding agreement. This is a brand new area in our cooperation that has environmental, scientific and economic significance. We continue to implement the programme to harmonise our foreign policy action for 2012–2013. Russia and Belarus are closely coordinating their approaches to problems in regional and European security for countering new challenges and threats. We are broadening our humanitarian cooperation. In 2013, we plan to hold the Days of Russian Culture in Belarus. Reciprocal Days of Belarusian Culture will be held in Russia in 2014. In the next few months, we will be jointly celebrating the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. We will be holding events emphasising the spiritual and historical roots that bind our peoples. I want to thank Mr Lukashenko and all our Belarusian colleagues for our highly constructive work during today’s meeting and, most importantly, for their focused work in preparing today’s events. I want to express my hope that in the future, we will continue to work just as successfully. Thank you for your attention. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Thank you, Mr Putin. Friends, I just mentioned that these events we hold within the framework of formal Union organisations are also good because they allow us to constantly bring the topics and problems of building the Union State into focus. We shake ourselves a little, shake our colleagues and partners in order to more actively work in this direction. I am very pleased that Mr Putin particularly stressed in his speech that the projects we are implementing here within the framework of the Union State are pilot projects in the post-Soviet space. This is truly the case. And in the Customs Union, when we formed the Customs Union and then the Common Economic Space, we turned to the groundwork and expertise that we already had as part of our work to implement the Treaty on the Creation of a Union State. Members of our governments, colleagues and experts hold meetings to prepare these high-level sessions and carry out this work face-to-face. This communication allows them to gain experience, particularly for the Belarusians who are learning from their Russian colleagues. And I want to once again publicly thank the members of the Russian Government for their efficiency and reliability in working to prepare Union events, as well as interstate relations at the highest level. Today, as you know, we had 11 items on the agenda, with an extra one added later, and we made decisions on each one of them. There was a set of budget decisions that the Supreme State Council always needs to make. We have approved the 2013 budget, which was previously approved by our parliaments and our governments; we also tried to identify certain areas of action within the framework of the Union project, the actions by our two states, in response to the expectations of our peoples. But this issue on the agenda is always open, and any official, or perhaps even citizens of our nations, can submit their suggestions before the next meeting of the Supreme State Council. Friends, it will be interested for you to know that we examined and approved about 38 programmes that will be financed out of the Union budget. This is also a very important direction, and I must say that these are not the programmes to sell, change or replace anything. We agreed that these will primarily be innovation programmes, and 38 programmes seems like a good number. If we implement them, this will also be a good move in the right direction. Mr Putin just stated that we are holding talks regarding our joint efforts to develop existing major manufacturing companies. I think that this year, we will have something to say in all these areas. Mr Putin, I am very grateful to you for the programmes we are implementing in Belarus. You mentioned a major programme, which is probably one of the biggest Russian projects you are implementing with us in Belarus – building a nuclear power plant. I must say that the construction of our plant and the one in Kaliningrad is progressing on time, and even ahead of schedule. What else? Competition is competition; we are conquering the electricity market. Along with the Russians, we will be the first in this area, and this will give us certain advantages in bridging the energy deficit in this region. This is a very good experience for our builders. We have been progressing ahead of schedule since the beginning of our work. The Russian experts are pleased with the builders’ work, including Belarusian builders. In short, this is a good experience and we will ask you to engage Belarusians in the construction of similar facilities in the future. I am very pleased, and our delegation shares this view, that you invited us to your home city, to this wonderful complex for working and living. It would be nice if this could become a tradition. Thank you.