Nov. 6, Belarus President Lukashenka and his Ukrainian counterpart went to Ivano-Frankivsk, one of Ukraine's west oblasts hit by the swine flue epidemic. "The situation is serious not only in Ukraine and sickness rate is the same as in other countries. What you have is not the plague but panic. The swine flue can be effectively treated," Oleksandr Lukashenko said on his arrival in Ivano-Frankivsk, a ZIK correspondent reports.
In the course of the talks held by Yushchenko and Lukashenka, Ukraine has agreed to repay the debts of state-owned FSU enterprises in exchange for ratification by Belarus of the border agreement.
After the collapse of the USSR, Minsk demanded the repayment of debts, classifying them as Ukraine's state debts. Lukashenko then hinged the debts repayment on ratifying the border aggreement with Ukraine.
The amount of debt, as estimated by Minsk, varied, standing at $228 mln first, then going down to $135 mln and finally to $60 mln. Eventually, Kyiv agreed to repay $50 mln on condition the amount is regarded as a voluntary compensation, not as state debt.
Lukashenka's visit to Ukraine is viewed as an attempt to revitalize the deal.
According to some sources, both presidents decided not to publicize the terms of their agreement. It became known, however, that they agreed on an alternative version of debt settlement whereby Ukraine will supply cheaper electricity in payment of its debt.
Speaking on the sidelines of the talks, Lukashenka noted that Ukraine will offer favorable terms in supplying its electricity to Belarus. "There is a confidential edge to the talks. But I would like to stress that the results are very profitable for Belarus, even more profitable than the contract with Russia," Lukashenko said.