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Press statements following meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko

April 3, 2017, St Petersburg

Following Russian-Belarusian talks, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko made statements for the press.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, colleagues,

We would like to brief you on the results of our work. And there are results. We have agreed that we shall settle all our contentious issues on oil and gas, actually, we did not agree, we settled them. We agreed on how and when we are going to do that. We shall do it within ten days.

We have found an arrangement whereby we maintain our approaches, harmonise our stances on prices. We have found an opportunity for mutual trade-offs, agreed on how we will operate in this area not just in 2017 but also in 2018 and 2019. We have reiterated our commitment to set up by July 2019 the necessary rules, foundational rules and conditions on creating a united market of electric power, general conditions and rules. We gave reiterated our readiness to do our best to draft joint rules for the united gas market by January 1, 2018, and by 2024 to draft and sign an intergovernmental agreement within the Eurasian Economic Union on a single gas market.

We spent a lot of time discussing cooperation in finance, in some particular areas of the economy, in high-tech areas, and finished with the possibility of expanding our joint work in space.

We spoke at length on cooperation in agriculture. I asked the Government of the Russian Federation for our specialists to go to Belarus this week and work with their colleagues at the enterprises that aroused suspicion regarding compliance with our phytosanitary standards.

I believe these are the issues that are being resolved in the course of our joint practical work in the spirit that has evolved between our countries over the many years since the signing of the agreement on the formation of the Union State.

Let me remind you that yesterday we marked the Day of Unity of the Peoples of Russia and Belarus, and this year we also mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations. So there are no outstanding issues as of today. We will move on, we will keep enhancing allied relations within the Union State and work on the legal framework, and on the development of the Eurasian Economic Union.

Thank you.

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Mr Putin, friends,

Regrettably, I must begin with what we discussed at the beginning of our meeting, even if on a different note. I am truly grateful to you for agreeing to hold our talks despite this tragedy and for conducting them in a positive and orderly manner. As you have said, there are no unsettled matters between us now.

Of course, it is bad when presidents have to deal with issues they are not expected to address. Well, it comes with the job. Indeed, Mr Putin and I have settled all outstanding issues in the oil and gas sector, and so I will not speak about them now. We spent a long time discussing agrarian issues and have agreed that they will be tackled by the Union State Supreme State Council along with the issue of our industrial policy. We have agreed to coordinate the timeframe and to adopt decisions on these and other issues at a Supreme State Council meeting.

To tell the truth, we spent considerable time discussing international issues, especially those that concern us, our neighbours, and EU policy. We exchanged opinions on relations with the United States and ways to develop them. Of course, I asked Mr Putin not to forget about Belarus when building up relations with major powers. He will be meeting with the G20 leaders soon. He assured me of Russia’s support and promised to continue to support Belarus at all forums, just as he always did.

We also discussed security issues, and not only in connection with the tragedy in St Petersburg. We had planned to discuss them; these issues were on our agenda. We did not begin our discussion with oil and gas issues. As we had planned, we focused on our countries’ security. I will not provide any details, because you can see what is going on. We want to maintain stability in Russia and Belarus. There are too few peaceful regions in the world. We have agreed to work collectively to protect our security, the security of our countries.

Mr Putin, I am grateful to you for meeting us halfway on refinancing our debts to Russia this year. Mr President has promised to issue corresponding orders on this issue today or tomorrow.

I would like to reiterate that we have no unsettled issues now. Moreover, we looked into the future of our economies. We have settled these issues. I believe that in a matter of ten days, as Mr President said, our Governments will formalise our decisions to normalise work in our economies.

Once again, thank you, Mr Putin. I deeply regret that we have met in this difficult situation. But we must stand together, and our people must see this, as we have shown them today.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

April 3, 2017, St Petersburg