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Statements for the press following the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus

February 25, 2016, Minsk

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Mr Putin, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I want to once again welcome the President of Russia, Mr Putin, our Russian colleagues and friends, and the Russian leadership to Belarus. Many of you have been here before, but there are one or two people who have come to Minsk for the first time. We are very happy to see you.

Today’s meeting of the Supreme State Council once again proved the exceptional significance of our Union agenda. Time and history put everything in its place, and we are even more aware of the unfading value of Belarusian-Russian friendship.

I said that time has proved it, and this is not just a phrase. At some point, you and I heard suggestions like, “Well, what’s a Union State, as a project? Let’s take a broader perspective,” – and we sat there and discussed the issue and probably made the right decision then, that this Union State project was not hindering anyone at the time, and we were at the forefront with it. And as you noted today, and I want to repeat it again, we were right in sticking to this Union State project, which we use to work on many issues that will be useful to any integration association, including our integration within the Eurasian Economic Union.

Today, we had a detailed review of all the current issues pertaining to various areas of our cooperation. One of the most important questions was the result of the trade and economic cooperation between our two countries last year. True, we are under the influence of external threats to our economies. There is no point in discussing the reasons behind them; we all know them.

But we came to the common understanding that today, we must give even more attention, working closely together, to economic issues and give our utmost efforts to increasing mutual trade, strengthening our cooperation ties, developing a common industrial policy, cutting barriers and eliminating exceptions in the common market. I am absolutely certain that, working under the new conditions, we will nevertheless overcome the problems we currently face.

Today, we adopted the Union State’s budget for 2016. It is important that even in this complicated financial and economic situation, we approved the budget in the amount of over six billion Russian rubles. A significant part of these funds will be used to implement Union programmes and host events that are absolutely essential for us.

We examined the implementation of priority projects, top priority objectives for further developing our Union State project through 2017. We set forth clear indicators for next steps, aimed at maintaining the positive momentum in our union building.

We also discussed the results of carrying out the coordinated foreign policy action programme and outlined key areas and directions of our actions through 2017 as regards foreign policy.

By the way, the absence of any kind of misunderstanding or mistrust in our interaction on the international arena is the best demonstration of Belarusian-Russian unity and strategic partnership in these difficult times; our foreign ministers spoke about this as well.

We gave attention to issues of international and regional security. Moreover, we developed a clear action plan for the regional group of Belarusian and Russian troops. They are in line with modern standards. We spoke for strengthening mutual understanding in all areas, first and foremost in broadening and developing integration processes.

Our nations have a great deal of potential. And in this respect, the Union State must operate as a powerful platform for developing the full spectrum of mutual cooperation, and provide effective support for the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union.

I hope that the agreements reached at the highest level will allow us to dynamically step up our cooperation and overcome any contradictions or disagreements as partners, in the spirit of a genuine alliance, as it befits the Union State.

Once again, Mr President, I thank you and all our Russian colleagues, members of the Government Cabinet, Mr Medvedev, and the head of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament for coming to Belarus today, thus demonstrating support for the course we are on, which we have committed to in these recent years together with the Russian Federation.

Thank you.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: In addition to what Mr Lukashenko has said, I would like to tell you that in the course of our talks and the Supreme State Council meeting we covered the entire range of issues of Russian-Belarusian cooperation, which is of a strategic and truly allied nature.

We gave special attention to developing a future agenda pertaining to economic development and furthering trade and investment ties. We agreed to coordinate our macroeconomic regulation efforts, as well as measures to ensure the Union’s stable economic growth in conditions of an unfavourable external market situation.

We have made an important decision regarding the further alignment of national legislations, eliminating the remaining barriers and improving our business climates. I would also like to note that Russia is the main economic partner for Belarus. We accounted for about 50 percent of its trade in 2015. More than 2,500 companies with Russian participation operate in Belarus, and more than a 1,000 Belarusian companies work in Russia.

In the course of our talks, we had a detailed consideration of opportunities for further enhancing production cooperation. We agreed to step up our efforts to develop a single industrial policy, including within the framework of the import replacement working group set up last November. We also planned specific measures to prevent illegal trade in industrial products. An appropriate joint statement was approved on the sidelines of today’s meeting.

We also had a frank exchange on current world and regional affairs. Within this context, we discussed further strengthening foreign policy cooperation and heard reports by our foreign ministers.

We spoke of enhancing the defence potential and security of the Union State, as Mr Lukashenko has just said. We approved a programme of coordinated actions on the international arena. This will make it possible to more efficiently coordinate our efforts and develop a single approach to acute regional and global issues.

Mr Lukashenko has already mentioned the important resolutions we have passed. They are directed at further enhancing Union State activities. We approved the 2016 Union budget. Despite the negative macroeconomic tendencies we managed to retain its volume at the same level. We will continue implementing more than 40 inter-state economic, social and humanitarian programmes. I am convinced that the agreements reached today in Minsk will serve to strengthen the Union State.

Thank you for your attention.

February 25, 2016, Minsk