After the talks, Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin went to the Plenary Session of the III Forum of Belarusian and Russian regions. Minsk these days has acquired the status of the main site of business negotiations and bargains.
The plenary session sounds bureaucratic but is not at all boring. Russian ideologist Mikhail Shvydkoi admits his affection for the Minister of Information of Belarus.
Mikhail Shvydkoi, special representative of Russian President for international cultural cooperation:
My favorite Lilia Ananich said that 2017 is the year of the 500th anniversary of the Psalter by Francysk Skaryna. This literary monument relates to Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. This is an amazing opportunity to show all the world what Slavs of Russia and Belarus made for the development of great humanitarian ideas.
Belarus and Russia are connected by common history and alphabet, but it would be nice to be connected with the same laws. Even in law should Belarusian-Russian relations be beautiful.
Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus:
It all seems settled. And, indeed, we have equal rights, common laws and the law enforcement practice. When you start looking deeper, you see some things that to some extent adversely affect the overall normal climate.
Valentina Matviyenko, Chairwoman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation:
It would be right if we came step by step to the creation of common visa space. There is no alternative to that. This will allow us to more actively develop the tourism industry of Belarus and Russia. This will allow us to offer common tourism products, to attract foreign visitors into our countries.
Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation:
Within the framework of the Union State, we are implementing about 40 programs, jointly developing advanced technology programs, primarily for the needs of the aerospace industry, satellite navigation, exploration and agriculture. Through the Eurasian Economic Union, we are forming a single market for goods, services, capital and labor. This provides conditions for sustainable economic growth in member countries. This improves the competitiveness of our producers on the domestic and foreign markets. In other words, both bilaterally and at the multilateral level, we have built good-quality infrastructure cooperation with our Belarusian friends. And close interaction between the Russian and Belarusian regions is its integral part, of course.
Participation in the Forum of the presidents once again underscores the importance of this platform for integration. The foreign course of the official Minsk does not change. Belarusians only diversify their markets, rather than political positions.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
Certain forces in our country, and in Russia would not like to have our all-round cooperation and rapprochement. They are trying to destroy our unity, to embroil Belarus and Russia, to weaken our positions. Therefore, we cannot give in to these efforts and drive a wedge in our relationship. Rather than join forces in times of crisis, we sometimes try to survive alone. Why do it? Removing barriers to the formation of a unified industrial policy, the single market is absolutely in our interests. We should not compete with each other. We need to pool resources to compete with foreign corporations within the union, and then press them and in foreign markets. And believe me, this will work.
Among the nearly 40 agreements, the majority contain commercial agreements worth $300 million. For Brest and Irkutsk regions, for example, 5,000 kilometers is not a distance. Today the Belarusian region found the closest possible Russian partner - Kaliningrad region.
Anatoly Lis, chairman of the Brest regional executive committee:
We have a highly developed processing of meat, milk and agricultural products. Therefore, it is in demand in the markets of the Russian Federation, including in Kaliningrad region. And from there, our largest enterprise, engaged in fish processing, is actively working with the Baltic.
Much was said about the development of tourism at the forum. This is a branch that not only brings economic benefits, but also brings together regions and people.
Russian visitors were welcomed in Belarus as fellow citizens. Alexander Lukashenko did not hide it during his official speech.
The movements of the presidents are symbolic; these are signals for people: in which direction they should work and live. I want to say that the current visit of our President of the Russian Federation is an important symbolic step. This is seen not only by us, government officials; this is appreciated by both Belarusians and Russians, especially the people of Belarus. This is not the first time you have visited Belarus in the last couple of months. That says a lot, it means that the head of Russia is convinced that Belarus is not a stranger. This is a fraternal country and we need to always appreciate that.