A press conference is being held by the President of Belarus at the Independence Palace for representatives of regional mass media of Russia.
It completes the press tour, in which about 100 journalists and bloggers are taking part.
Before that, they got acquainted with the socio-economic development of Mogilev region. Meetings in this format are traditional. This is the 13th in a row.
For now Alexander Lukashenko has answered only a few questions, but has already addressed the interlocutors with a welcoming speech, emphasizing the importance of regional cooperation between Belarus and Russia.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
Our trusty dialogue with representatives of regional mass media of Russia has become a good tradition. Now I would like to emphasize that this is not a conference, this is an absolutely confidential dialogue. The main purpose of these meetings is the rapprochement of our peoples, the ability to convey objective information on the closest and, hopefully, your native land.
The Russian Federation has been not just a strategic partner and ally, but the close and fraternal state. The major direction of the integration of Belarus and Russia is a regional co-operation; we once again saw this during the forum in Minsk, which was attended by representatives of the regions of the two countries in June 2016. If not for regional cooperation, a separate period of our recent history, a certain period, we would not be here today with you and would not say that we are fraternal nations. It is the Russian Federation's regions that have saved this brotherhood of two Slavic nations.
Participants of the forum signed back then a record number of agreements, contracts, commercial contracts for more than $300 million. The weight of the event was given thanks to the participation in it of the Presidents of the two countries. We noted back then in our speeches that crucial role is played by interregional relations and agreed to promote their development. That's why we constantly invite you, staff of the regional mass media of Russia, to Belarus.
Every year, dozens of delegations from Russian regions, led by the chiefs visit Belarus. There are lots of return visits too. Industrial cooperation connects more than 8,000 companies from both countries. In Russia, we created more than 70 joint facilities to produce Belarusian machinery. Russian companies are also implementing a number of major projects in Belarus. For example, they are engaged in the construction of our nuclear power plant.
I also would like to note that we keep all of our agreements with Russia in the framework of the Union State, CSTO and the EEU. We defend economic interests, preventing the importation attempts of sanctioned goods, at the same time we carry out work on their replacement with our own products. Due to the difficult situation on the retail market, we propose to introduce into the legal framework the concept of goods of the Belarus-Russia Union State, which would ensure equal access of our and your products to national and regional programs to support domestic producers.
In short, even now the Belarusian-Russian relations have the opportunity to reach a new level and give another impetus to the speedy establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union. I emphasize that it was the Union State that was the basis for its creation. With all the scale goals and objectives reflected in the agreement on the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union, this integration association in several areas is yet to be raised to the level of our union with you.
The press conference is attended by around a hundred representatives of the media and the blogosphere from 46 regions of Russia - from Kaliningrad to Yakutia. Each of them has a question to the Belarusian leader.
The press conference began with a question about the main achievements in Belarus-Russia relations of 2016.