Belarus and Russia have resolved all outstanding issues in the bilateral relations. This became known after the talks between Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin. The Presidents discussed a wide range of topics: from agricultural policy to the international agenda.
There is an agreement that Russia will refinance the debt of Belarus.
Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation:
We agreed that we would resolve all our disputes in the oil and gas sector. Actually, it's better to say we have already resolved them.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
And we will soon agree on the terms and make a decision on these and other issues already at the session of the Supreme State Council.
Talks between Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin in the Konstantinovsky Palace lasted several hours. During that time they managed to resolve all the accumulated issues in the Belarusian-Russian cooperation.
Natalia Eismont, spokeswoman for the Belarus President:
As you know, the negotiations lasted more than 5 hours. And here we should first of all thank the President of the Russian Federation and our Russian colleagues as a whole.
Despite the complicated emotional background (since the message about the tragedy in the subway arrived just a few minutes before the start of the meeting) the negotiations were the most constructive, very detailed and, as you have seen, the parties managed to deal with all available details and nuances.
Throughout the meeting, breaks were taken during which the President of Russia was reported information from the staff about the situation in general and the progress of the investigation.
The oil and gas dispute lasted from mid-2015. The issue price was steadily rising. Until yesterday, it was at least $600 million. In addition, Russia reduced supply of oil to Belarus.
Vladimir Semashko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus:
Oil supplies to Belarus will be resumed in line with the current agreement, that is 24 million tons per year.
These volumes will be supplied from the current year and up to 2024 inclusive.
But at the same time up to 2019 inclusive, 18 million out of 24 million will be sent for processing to our refineries. This is acceptable, beneficial to the plants. Well, 6 million tons will be "re-customs-cleared", this is the term we used. It is important that the import duties from this re-customs-clearance will go to the budget of the Republic of Belarus.
The agreement between the Presidents on oil and gas issues suggest that the formation of prices for Belarus for natural gas will be reviewed. Gazprom reported that it will provide discounts with a reduction factor in 2018. And in 2019, according to the logic, the conditions of price formation itself could be reviewed.
Mikhail Kovalev, professor, dean of the economic faculty of the Belarusian State University:
The main thing is that oil begins to flow into the country in the right amounts. If this oil goes into the country, the gross domestic product will grow. In fact, GDP growth has already been observed. But due to lack of oil we did not get that one additional percent.
The possible economic effects for Belarus thanks to these agreements on oil and gas could reach $2 billion. And that's just for the next three years.
Tangible progress has been made in the financial field.
Firstly, Russia will refinance the debt of Belarus. Secondly, Belarus may finally get the third tranche of the loan by the Eurasian Fund of Stabilization and Development.
Vasily Matyushevsky, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus:
In the first part of the conversation, Vladimir Putin was informed about the implementation of the program in the framework of the Eurasian Fund of Stabilization and Development, about certain issues and irregularities in the program. Vladimir Putin supported our initiatives in terms of the further continuation of this program.
A series of questions concerned the possible refinancing of the current debt to the Russian Federation. We're talking about the refinancing of the debt that we have to repay as part of our bilateral loans in 2017. It is about $750-800 million - the sum of the principal debt and interest. The principled decision was made.
The Belarusian Ministry of Agriculture hopes that this month Russia may lift export restrictions from Belarusian producers of milk, meat and poultry.
Leonid Zayats, Agriculture and Food Minister of Belarus:
The President of the Russian Federation assured us that this week Rosselkhoznadzor will visit our enterprises and certainly implement measures to ensure that access of these products to the Russian market is opened.
By the way during the three months of 2017, the Belarusian agro-industrial complex earned 36% more foreign currency in export sales than during the same period last year. The quality of our products is still a brand. It allows increasing the volume of supplies and to ask for a good price.
Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus:
We understand that some differences may arise between economic entities but there have never been fundamental problems regarding foreign policy and security between Belarus and Russia. And I am convinced there will be no such differences in the future either.
Oleg Gaidukevich, first deputy chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of the Republic of Belarus:
The main thing is to ensure that our ministers do not relax after signing these agreements. Now someone may think that it's good that the presidents agreed and nothing else should be done. Oil agreed, gas agreed and we can sit quietly. No! We have to work even more. What happened yesterday are strategic decisions in order to make things work, in order to get economic results and now it is time for each minister, each official to start working.