MINSK, Belarus – July 21, 2019 – President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko suggested that he and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin solve all issues and prepare a program of action for the reintegration of Russia and Belarus by December 8 this year, for the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Union State Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.
“Russia and Belarus should not postpone the resolving of a single problem beyond this time frame, because this is a crucial issue,” Lukashenko said and suggested approving the program and “removing current problems” in the framework of the Supreme State Council or in another format. – What will we say on the 20th anniversary? There is nothing to say, if we do not resolve all the existing questions, and do not sign the execution of the treaty, which will determine the strategy of our further actions. ”
Lukashenko also stressed that the citizens of both countries have long been waiting for concrete decisions from both presidents.
“We all decided what we planned: we determined the directions of our actions at the moment, we even determined concrete actions and, as Vladimir Vladimirovich said, we created a joint group at a governmental level,” Lukashenko noted and emphasized that at the moment all questions are transferred to the governmental level.
In March, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko discussed the further integration of Russia and Belarus. There are some disputes regarding how the reunification is to take place. The negotiations are currently stalled due to the question of whether Belarus should reintegrate into the Russian Federation as an autonomous republic with special status or should the Union State be formed on the basis of equal status of Russia and Belarus.
Earlier, the Belarussian leader complained that Russia imposed various restrictions against Belarus and complained about some Russians thinking of Minsk as a “parasite”. He also stressed that Belarus is “at the epicenter of events – in the center of Europe”, therefore it is obliged to constantly “turn its head” and the reproaches of Russia about the turn of Minsk to the West are “inappropriate”. The Belarussian president considers “it’s normal to cooperate with all international actors.”
Of course, the State Department, which has previously dubbed Lukashenko “the last dictator of Europe”, commended Lukashenko for his remarks and praised him for “refusing to officially recognize Crimea as part of Russia.”
According to an expert on Belarus and Ukraine, a member of the Council on Interethnic Relations under the President of Russia, Bogdan Bezpalko, Russia does not prohibit and does not intend to prohibit Belarus from “turning heads” towards the West, however “Lukashenko should be aware of the magnitude of the consequences of such turns toward the West”.
However, despite the occasional differences, the two brotherly countries are close allies, with Belarus being one of the largest contributors to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as well as regularly supporting Russia on almost all issues at the UN. More than 80% of Belarussians use Russian as their first language, consider themselves part of the “Russian World” (Русский мир, Russkiy mir) and overwhelmingly see Russia in a positive light. Thus, political will is the only requirement for the reintegration process to start as soon as possible.