Decree on social dependency, employment policy, relations with Russia and mutually beneficial partnership in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) were among the topical issues discussed at the March 9 meeting hosted by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. The Head of State responded to the issues that most concern to society. The President drew attention to the most important values that Belarus preserves, which are stability and calmness.
For a long time, Russia has been the main export market and political ally for Belarus. Recently, these relations have been marred by significant "cooling".
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
We are already frightened that we would buy natural gas at European prices. Like we will pay $200 instead of $150. Thus they want to say we are Russia's freeloaders and they show this is a gift to us. I do not want to delve into details, but Medvedev has to understand that if we pay for gas at European prices, there is then something he has to pay for too. And the price will be incredibly higher than the price of natural gas. I thought, and I still think (probably the vast majority of the Russian people and Russian citizens think and understand) that our relationship with Russia is not accounting. Bookkeeping and the price of natural gas, which does not belong to Medvedev, should not be the basis of our relations.
Much more lies at the heart of our relationships. And to evaluate these relationships, it is necessary to delve into the past, into the middle of the 20th century, when we lost a third of the population [in WWII - note by ctv.by]. And if someone wants to escalate the situation and once again reproach us instead of addressing the issue, this will not work.
The Eurasian Economic Union was based on the condition of economic partnership, but today the Kremlin forgets about it. Belarus does not require privileges and preferences in oil and gas dispute, but insists on compliance with the agreements.
The conflict between Moscow and Minsk has already become complex: in addition to oil and gas, there have been some questions relating to integration. For example, lack of equal conditions for all the market participants. For example, access of Belarusian products to the Russian market is limited today.
Zhanna Tarasevich, co-chairwoman of the board, Director of Business Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers named after Professor M.S. Kunyavsky:
Regarding sales of our products to the Russian Federation: the Russian Federation imposed a ban on Belarusian meat or dairy products, respectively, we receive less revenue. This is the first point. Secondly, if we say that the price of gas or other energy sources that we import increases, the state can raise tariffs for business. And it means increase in the self-cost of products.
Georgy Badei, Honorary Chairman of the Business Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers named after Professor M.S. Kunyavsky:
We're talking about a single economic space, but it turns out for some reason that Belarus and Russia are separate in this single economic space. It should be the same for all entities. Then there will be no distinction between Russian and Belarusian businessmen. All the entrepreneurs of the single economic space will operate in the same environment and the same conditions.
Belarus suggests resolving all the pressing issues at the next session of the Supreme State Council of the Belarus-Russia Union State. This time the meeting of the heads of government should not become a trivial meeting.
We need the leadership of the brotherly Russia to comply with its obligations. In both content and spirit. Second. If we are building our union - we once decided to build the Union State - then our people and businesses must have a level playing field in this market. This is all we want, nothing else. If some "smart" people out there think they can offend us all the time, they are mistaken.
Therefore, answering the question that is constantly put in front of us regarding the meeting of the Union State's Supreme State Council, I put a specific task for the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs: we need to prepare the agenda for this meeting and identify the fundamental questions that must be addressed today.
We cannot turn the Supreme State Council, where I am the chairman, into a kind of trivial meeting when we come, look at each other, snack and depart without any issues resolved.
So give me please specific issues on the agenda, the most important questions of our relations and a draft decision that should be negotiated and initialed, so that we don't head-but each other. We are absolutely not against the Supreme State Council. The next such council it to take place in Moscow. Prepare the agenda. And as we agreed: 3-4 issues, no more. Instead of 25 issues that we have to adopt very quickly. We're like skaters in this case.