President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Friends,
First, let me once again give a warm welcome to the President of Russia and the leadership of the Russian Federation in Belarus. As you know, this is worth a lot, because there is probably no other country that Russia’s senior officials visit like they do Belarus. We appreciate this, Mr President.
At today’s meeting of the Union State Supreme State Council, we discussed issues concerning the further expansion of bilateral cooperation, the development of integration processes and the promotion of economic cooperation. Our project is a stable platform for strengthening relations between Russia and Belarus.
The ultimate goal remains the same: to increase the dynamics of the two countries’ socioeconomic development and improve the lives of our people. Last year and early this year we reached stable growth in bilateral trade.
We must provide for the further growth of trade between the two countries, including by creating an equitable competitive environment. This is the topic to which we dedicated most of our time today.
Reviewing the Union State’s priorities for the next five years was an important element of our talks today. An increase in systematic cooperation between the two countries’ relevant agencies is one of the key tools needed to implement the goals stipulated in this document. This task is assigned to the Standing Committee of the Union State.
Close attention was also given to interregional cooperation as a pivotal component of bilateral ties. Today, 80 Russian regions maintain trade and economic relations with Belarus, with 300 cooperation agreements singed at the regional or municipal level.
This October, the 5th Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions will be held in Mogilev. As I mentioned, I have invited President Vladimir Putin to visit this event, which is important for the development of bilateral ties.
We also discussed the importance of coordinating the work of our foreign ministries. Russia and Belarus have the same views on major international issues and support each other in international organisations. It will always remain this way.
The implementation of a programme of coordinated efforts in foreign policy for 2018–2019 remains important. We will continue coordinating our approaches to issues related to regional and European security, as well as cooperation in countering new challenges and threats.
Disputed matters that occasionally emerge in Russian-Belarusian relations will be addressed in the spirit of mutual understanding and compromise, something that our departments have, in fact, already been doing. This was once again confirmed during my meeting with Mr President at the last meeting of the Supreme State Council.
We intend to continue our constructive dialogue in all areas of cooperation. The full potential of the Union State will be used to ensure the stable development of our countries and improve the wellbeing of our people.
I am confident that today we have managed to lend visible impetus to the further strengthening of the fraternal partnership between Belarus and Russia.
Mr President, please.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
Let me start with our bilateral meeting with the President of Belarus. The meeting was useful and substantive: in a traditionally friendly and constructive atmosphere we discussed the whole range of important matters pertaining to Russian-Belarusian cooperation. And, of course, topics regarding international cooperation were also touched on.
Likewise, the Supreme State Council meeting was used to sum up the results of the Union State's activity and outline new tasks for further development. The recently signed joint statement reiterates our mutual desire to strengthen and expand the strategic partnership between Russia and Belarus.
Naturally, special emphasis was placed on economic cooperation. We have seen good results within the framework of the Union State. I am referring to the dynamic increase in mutual trade and investment. In 2017, Russian-Belarusian trade increased 23.5 percent to $32.4 billion. Trade in both directions increased in almost all sectors, from agriculture to high value-added goods.
Russian investors rank first in terms of the volume of investment in the Belarusian economy. Towards the end of last year, more than $3.9 billion worth of Russian investment came to Belarus and $620 million worth of Belarusian investment came to Russia.
We have approved a list of priorities for the development of the Union State over the next four years, from 2018 to 2022. Priority tasks include improving the business climate, eliminating the remaining barriers and limitations for the free flow of goods, services, capital and workforce, and further harmonising the regulatory framework. Russia and Belarus are to implement a joint macroeconomic, credit, currency, price, and tax policy.
Energy has always been one of the most important areas of Russian-Belarusian cooperation. Russia is a reliably supplier of energy resources to Belarus – 4.5 million tonnes of oil and 6 billion cubic metres of gas in the first quarter of this year – and is participating in a programme to upgrade Belarus’ gas distribution system. Russia is building a Belarusian nuclear power plant that will fully meet the country’s growing demand for electricity.
We have agreed with our Belarusian partners to boost cooperation in industry and expand science-driven production. Russian and Belarusian bank resources as well as private investors will be involved in financing high-tech projects.
The Union State Prize for Science and Technology we have established today will be awarded to scientists and specialists who have distinguished themselves by developing and commercialising new technology.
During our talks at the Union State Supreme State Council meeting we noted with satisfaction the successful cooperation between Russia and Belarus in the humanitarian area. A programme of cooperation between the ministries of culture is being implemented. This autumn the Days of Russia festival will open in Belarus as well as the annual Yury Bashmet International Music Festival. Several prominent Russian and Belarusian cultural figures and groups have been awarded Union State prizes for their achievements in literature and the arts.
The President of Belarus and I have discussed developments in international and regional affairs, such as promoting cooperation in foreign policy and providing defence and security for the Union State. We adopted the 2018–2019 programme of joint actions in foreign policy.
In conclusion I would like to express my traditional gratitude to the President of Belarus for organising today’s work and for the atmosphere that was created to reach these agreements.
Thank you very much.