Russia: Beginning of a Meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Dear Alexander Grigoryevich! I am very pleased to meet with you again. We have been seeing a lot of each other recently. Last year we met six times and this is our second meeting this year. Moreover, the first one took place at the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. In my view that event was very informative, perhaps the most useful such encounter we have had in recent years. We arrived at some very important agreements, and what's more these agreements have economic, cultural and regional implications. Like all agreements, they have to be implemented. The mere pieces of paper have to be turned into actual contracts and outcomes that address the various issues that exist. So I think we could go through the agenda, including those arrangements and agreements that we reached during the meeting of the Supreme State Council. And I hope that we will also have time to take a walk, to talk about current affairs, and to discuss global and regional issues, which of course is the whole point of these informal meetings.

I welcome you most warmly.

PRESIDENT OF BELARUS ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO: Thank you, Dmitry Anatolyevich. I'm really very grateful for what you have said, because people tend to twiddle their thumbs after these meetings. It's really very simple. At the meeting of the Council we really did - there's no doubt about it - take some decisive steps and agree on all sorts of issues that needed to be resolved. As you will recall, we said then that all of these things must be more than just words on paper, that they needed to be monitored, that they needed to be implemented. Especially now, in these difficult circumstances. Then you said: "All right, let's find a convenient time to meet at the end of February or in March." I'm grateful that we are meeting today and that we will really be revisiting the problems we discussed to see how they are being addressed. This is very important for our country and important for the Russian Federation. In one way or another, today Belarus provides employment for about ten million people in Russia. We are very closely affiliated with industrial production in the Russian Federation and such giants as MAZ [Minsk Automobile Plant], BELAZ [Belarusian Autoworks] and other companies like MTW [Minsk Tractor Works], buy up to 70 percent of the components that they need for finishing work in Russia. Therefore, as in previous times, our economies must work closely together, and no one is thinking of cutting the links between them, because this sort of cooperation is considered valuable worldwide. And we have agreed to maintain this level of cooperation.

There are lots of issues on which we just have to coordinate our positions. I also promised to inform you on many issues, and I will keep my promise. In short, there is a lot to talk about today in this beautiful corner of Russia.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Let's get to it then. We'll walk, we'll talk, we'll touch base.



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