Lukashenko calls on Putin to ‘finalise integration strategy’

Belarusian president Aleksander Lukashenko has called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to resolve all disputes and finalise an integration strategy by December 8, the 20th anniversary of the signing of a key treaty between the two countries.

Minsk and Moscow have been in talks for months about intensifying integration between the two countries based on the so-called Union State Treaty. Creating a new state structure made up of Belarus and Russia, however federal and loose it may be, is widely considered to be a way of ensuring Mr Putin remains in office after he completes his current term as Russian president. Under the Russian constitution, he is not allowed to serve a new term.

“We shall have nothing to say if we fail to resolve all the remaining issues and to sign a programme determining our future activities,” Belarusian state-run news agency Belta wrote quoting Mr Lukashenko. “I suggest sorting out all issues before that date, and adopting a programme that will define our action strategy,” he told Mr Putin in St Petersburg on July 18.

“Belarus is, for sure, our closest strategic partner and ally. We work together in every field: security, military, defence and economy,” said Mr Putin stressed. Reacting to Mr Lukashenko’s earlier criticism on the slow pace of talks, he noted that “some issues always emerge within such a large-scale joint project”.

On July 17, Belarusian economy minister Dmitry Krutoi said that the two governments had managed to agree on key areas and on how to advance the integration process.

Photo: Kremlin Press Service