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Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan presidents meet at Sochi Forum of Regions

The Second Forum of Regions of Russia and Belarus has moved to the site of Olympic records - Sochi. It was no longer biathlon and freestyle magicians who caused a furor but Belarusian equipment and food. At the same time, discussions were held between statesmen and businessmen. The presence of presidents Lukashenko and Putin increased the status of the meeting.

The Belarusian delegation included about 150 people - senators, heads of large enterprises and governors.

The theme of the previous meeting in Minsk was agriculture and food safety. This time, the forum on the Black Sea coast focused on the coherent industrial policy of Belarus and Russia. Kazakhstan also took part in the event: the country's already been living in the common Eurasian Economic Union for 9 months.

The Parliament speakers of the three states were shown the products of industrial giants. They included all the novelties of the industrial sector: from cars to space development, since the leitmotif of the forum is the transition from the export of raw materials to the innovative and industrial models. This is even more important against the backdrop of a difficult situation in the global economy and the sanctions policy of the West.

Igor Petrishenko, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to the Russian Federation:
The niches opened in the Russian Federation should be occupied first of all by our joint cooperation projects.

Speaker of the Russian upper chamber, Valentina Matvienko, proposed to buy all that was brought. For example, Zhodino-made BelAZ giant truck will go from the expo directly to mine diamonds in Yakutia. The speaker herself bought boots for the winter season. Other Sochi residents and tourists could also buy anything they wanted these days!

The sides signed 20 inter-regional agreements following the talks. They also inked more than 60 commercial contracts.

Natalia Breus, a correspondent:
Behind the idea of ​​cooperation with the Russian regions directly stands Alexander Lukashenko. He voiced this idea back in the early 90s. Back then economic ties were established with only a few members of the Russian Federation. These days Belarus cooperates with over 80 of them!

The presence of the presidents at the forum underlines how important inter-regional cooperation is for the total trade turnover. Lukashenko and Putin echoed each other stating that the countries will have to work in difficult conditions. 

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
We meet regularly and discuss the problems that arise, and the positive things that exist in our relations. We really understand what is happening around us. We also have enough problems, so we have to attend such regional events too.

Vladimir Putin, the P resident of the Russian Federation:
We have established a very good interaction mechanism with many of our partners. These are contacts between regions, we try to support them. And Mr Lukashenko suggested that we apply the same format between the regional structures of Belarus and the Russian Federation. I think this a very good idea.
I would like to remind you that soon Belarus will hold the presidential elections (October 11). It is always a very important and difficult stage in the life of any country. I am confident that these elections will be held at the highest level.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus:
Since our independence we have not only preserved and strengthened relations with Russia, but also laid a solid foundation for the future. Since it’s a brotherly meeting I want to tell especially to some Russian mass media that all talks about Belarus' possible U-turn, turn away and so on have to be stopped. It isn’t necessary either for me personally or for our states. I’ve been a president for 20 years. And during that time you could have realized in our policy. The only thing we do not want (Mr Putin and I) is to create problems by ourselves or spoil relations with our neighbors. We absolutely don't need it. We are not going to come against anyone. We are building smooth friendly relations just the way the Russian Federation does it today. Therefore do not blame us in turning away from Russia. We’ve always been together, and will long be together.      

The President of Belarus voiced the steps that will solve the problem of import substitution and will help to stimulate export production. This is the expansion of technological cooperation and launching of new products, the protection of the common market. But in the first place, this is the removal of trade restrictions. The President of Belarus advocates such a stance in the integration project because not everything is flawless in the Eurasian Economic Union. Alexander Lukashenko has responded to the claims of Mr Nazarbayev in terms of the quality of Belarusian milk.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
We live in a market environment. If people in Kazakhstan buy milk, we export it there. We would not do it if people didn't buy it. This is the first thing. Secondly, there is no such term 'genuine milk'. Everybody understands that Russia and Belarus mutually "dry" this milk and remove water. This issue has nothing to do with what is happening in the Eurasian Economic Union. We have much more serious problems. And I do not want to hide it (maybe the president of Russia will not like what I am going to say), but the latest agreement between Kazakhstan and the WTO and the duties they agreed to set up pose a real problem of the functioning of the Single Economic Union. And we are forced to adapt to what Kazakhstan and the WTO agreed on.

After the official part, the presidents of Belarus and Russia went to the exhibition. Here they were shown the full industrial potential of the two states.

Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan presidents meet at Sochi Forum of Regions