What To Expect From Lukashenko And Poroshenko Meeting?

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko will meet Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko ahead of the 1st Forum of Regions on Friday, 26 October.

Below are just some of the pressing issues that may come up at the one-on-one meeting.

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Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko; Credits: Reuters

Arms at the border

Arms traffic at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border may become one of the hottest topics of the meeting.

Recall that in late September, the Belarusian president directed to strengthen the border with Ukraine.

“We’ve decided to strengthen the border. We see how much trouble is coming to Belarus from there, including weapons. We should close the border – not for decent people, but for bandits, for those who smuggle arms,” he said.

Read also: What Lukashenko and Putin discussed in Mogilev

Later the officials of the State Border Committee reported 80 weapons and about 1,200 ammunition detained at the border. On October 23, the border agencies of Belarus and Ukraine acknowledged the absence of ‘organized smuggling channels’.

Border demarcation

A border demarcation between Belarus and Ukraine has been around for years.

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The length of the border between the countries is 1084 kilometers. In 2014, Belarus approved the provision on the demarcation of the border, but the process came to a halt for several years. Nonetheless, the presidents keep raising the question of speeding up the demarcation.

According to the latest joint plan, the demarcation of the state border should be completed by 2026. Next year, the demarcation of the Belarusian-Ukrainian border will start in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Exchange of spies

Both sides can raise the subject of espionage. Recall that a citizen of Belarus Yury Politik is now tried for espionage in Ukraine. Ukrainian journalist Pavel Sharoyko was convicted for 8 years of imprisonment for the same crime in Belarus.

Head of the KGB Valery Vakulchik stated the agency would not exchange Sharoiko for Politik but is considering to pardon the Ukrainian journalist.

MAZ, petrol, and cement

Last year Lukashenko and Poroshenko indicated that in 2019 the trade turnover between the countries should be at least $ 8 billion.

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The Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ); Credits: Reuters

For the first half of this year, it amounted to $2.4 billion. So it’s quite expected the economic cluster of questions will be put on the agenda.

Besides, there are some positive changes to discuss. Belarusian engineering giant MAZ has significantly increased the supply of equipment to Ukraine.

It outran the sales of medium-duty trucks in Ukraine, the Russian GAZ, and almost caught up with the Volkswagen in the first three quarters of 2018.

Read also: Belarus plans to sign EU partnership priorities in 2018

The share of Belarus in the Ukrainian import of gasoline is 81%, in the import of diesel fuel – 40%. Trade restrictions are also on the list.

Belarusian (primarily light) oil products occupy a significant place in the trade turnover.  In January – July, Belarus exported almost 2 million tons of fuel to Ukraine.

From 1 September, Ukraine restricted the supply of sulfuric acid and oleum from Belarusian enterprises in the ‘interests of national producers.’

There is also a question on the supply of cement and steel rods from Belarus. In July this year, an anti-dumping investigation was launched regarding the supply of these products to Ukraine.

The 1st Forum of Regions will focus on trade development, economic and investment cooperation, education and culture.