Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has specified conditions for Belarus’ deeper integration with Russia as part of the Union State last Friday, 18 January.
Commenting on the ongoing oil-gas situation between the two states, the president specified what has to be done for the introduction of a common currency, unification of the tax policy and the customs policy.
People should make the decision
“We are ready for the union. We are ready for unification but people should be the ones to make the decision, not us. We don’t shy away from a single provision. ”
Do it on the EU’s principles
“If someone starts talking about unification with me, then the talk starts from the top: let’s have a common currency. We don’t mind a common currency, but it should be common. It should not be the currency of the Central Bank of Russia.
We need an emission center on equal terms. If you talk about the European Union as an example, okay, let’s do it on the European Union’s principles. But the terms and the approach should be equal.”
“Do you want to unify the tax policy and the customs one? I agree. I said so last time but on the best traditions and conditions.
We will borrow the best practices from Belarus and Russia. But we don’t share the view: we are big, you are small, do like we do.”
There is no crisis
Lukashenko stressed that he doesn’t believe there’s a crisis in relations with Russia and all claims about Belarus have nothing to do with interstate or international relations.
“We have to protect our sovereignty and independence. We are not against Russians, Poles, or Lithuanians. We’d love to be part of any union but in our own apartment.
Our neighbors, whatever they are, we cannot choose neighbors, and we are ready to build kind, warm, and mutually beneficial relations with everyone,” stated the Belarusian leader.
Recall that the issue of deeper integration arose after Belarus asked for compensation from Russia for its tax maneuver that will cost the Belarusian economy billions of dollars.
Then Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suggested two ‘integration scenarios‘ in which Belarus would have to make substantial concessions. Shortly afterward, the states created a working group to prepare proposals for integration and resolving urgent and controversial issues.
Russia is represented by the Minister for Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin; Belarus by the Minister of Economy Dmitry Krutoy. On 10 January President Lukashenko stated that Russia might lose a westward partner if the sides won’t reach agreements on the matter.