Integration with Russia top topic at Belarus President's meeting with Russian journalists

Integration with Russia top topic at Belarus President's meeting with Russian journalists

Belarusian-Russian relations have the opportunity to reach a qualitatively new level, said November 17 the Belarus President during a press conference for representatives of regional mass media of Russia.

Meetings in this format are traditional. The current one is the 13th in a row. By the way, the President, talking to reporters, admitted that it is his favorite number. A live broadcast of the press conference is organized by the First Channel of the Belarusian Radio.

Alexander Lukashenko has managed to answer almost 20 questions. The whole block of them concerned the construction of the Belarus-Russian Union State. According to the President,

Russia has always been and remains a strategic partner - a brotherly nation for Belarus.

But 2016 proved to be challenging in our bilateral relations. The Belarusian leader announced a meeting with the president of Russia on November 22.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
We have done a lot. We have a common economic space, in most cases we are working according to common standards, rules of law. At the border, no one stopped you, no one asked for your passport, you have not made visas. We have free movement of people, labor and capital. For example, I come to Moscow and I am a Soviet man, for me Russia has never been a foreign capital.

We learned to pursue a common foreign policy in the building of our country. I always cite an example of heads of Belarusian and Russian foreign ministries - Makei and Lavrov - at the meeting of the Supreme State Council. We have learned to defend our homeland, as we often say in Belarus; we have common armed forces. You know that in the framework of the Collective Security Treaty, and even earlier under contracts and agreements with Russia, we have created here in the western direction an alternative to NATO, a single Belarusian-Russian group, which basis is a 70,000-strong army. This, according to NATO officials, is the best army in the CIS. It is at the forefront.

In health care, education we also have uniform standards, there are no problems. You can come to us for treatment, we can go to Moscow, to St. Petersburg, in any city of the Russian Federation for treatment. We have gone a long way, but we have not been able to do some things, which is why we have been criticized for being slow in the Union of Belarus and Russia.

But believe me, if we did not create a single parliament, a single government, which we once sought (this is written in the treaty), we have not approved of a single constitution (we must have done that), believe me that this is not Belarus that is to blame.

Much has been done, but there are certain difficulties, for which we are criticized. But there are objective reasons. Probably 20 years ago we were too romantic. When we started to create and develop specific questions, it turned out that not everything is that simple.

The President also cited successes and problematic issues of the Union State, the Eurasian Union, Belarus' experience in agriculture, the investigation of doping scandals and the results of the elections in America.

There was also raised the topic of the quality of Belarusian equipment. Today more than 70 joint ventures have been created in Russia.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
For such machinery you have to choose personnel, train them. If you worked with official distributors, you machinery is covered with a warranty, you will not have to worry about that.

If some Belarusian piece of machinery breaks down, we guarantee that within a day of two, this problem will be eliminated. This is because we have created a wide network of service centers.

The press conference is attended by about 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 social sphere was also discussed.

The most important thing in any state is taking care of people. Alexander Lukashenko emphasized this more than once.

For example, already in 2017, Belarus would like to achieve a salary of $500.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
I've never let anyone treat another man unjustly. For us this is a major priority for the entire vertical of power we've built. Labor productivity is in the first place. If there is no productivity, then what salary are you talking about? But we should spur both private and public businesses so that they increase labor productivity. So I told them that this year we have an average salary of about $400. With low inflation it is good. And in 2017, it is necessary to achieve $500. With such support from the people, there should be nothing to reproach us for. If we need $500, then we will achieve it. I will do everything so that the average salary in Belarus reaches $500.