Documents signed during the meeting included the Decree of the Supreme State Council of the Union State that sets forth the Guidelines for Implementing the Provisions of the Treaty Establishing the Union State in 2021–2023. Also, following the meeting, the sides signed resolutions of the Supreme State Council of the Union State On the Results of Russian-Belarusian Trade and Economic Cooperation Throughout 2020 and in January-June 2021, On the Union State’s Military Doctrine, On Awarding the 2021 Union State Prize in Science and Technology, as well as the Resolution of the Supreme State Council of the Union State On Implementing the Decisions of the Supreme State Council of the Union State.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lukashenko, friends,
The meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State we are holding today is, without exaggeration, truly important. We will be adopting a series of documents for further promoting and enhancing the economic, political and military integration of Russia and Belarus.
It is symbolic that this meeting is taking place on a special day for Russia – National Unity Day. Mr Lukashenko, thank you very much for your congratulations. This holiday symbolises the sincere and deep love of our Motherland, as well as the triumphant spirit of unity that has been passed on from one generation to another for many centuries.
In this regard, Russia and Belarus have much in common. We share the bond of centuries-old brotherly friendship, a shared past, spiritual and moral values, and quite often, family ties. In all times, our peoples have assisted one another in their hour of need. Together, we have defended freedom and independence, fought shoulder to shoulder against external enemies, and worked hand in hand to ensure the wellbeing and prosperity of our peoples.
I have said this on many occasions, but still I would like to reiterate that for Russia, Belarus is not just a good neighbour and our closest ally, with whom we have built a relationship of mutual respect and support, seeking to take into account each other’s interests, but also a truly brotherly Republic, a brotherly people. Making sure that it stays this way forever is our unwavering commitment.
Since the citizens of our countries want unity, 25 years ago Russia and Belarus embarked on a journey to establish a political and economic integration structure, the Union State. Over the past quarter of a century, we have accomplished a great deal together for our common economic space.
Our countries’ economies are closely intertwined and deeply interconnected. Russia is the main business partner for Belarus and accounts for almost one half of Belarus’ foreign trade. We rank first in terms of direct investment in the Belarusian economy, that’s about US$4 billion. Some 2,400 Russian companies operate in Belarus. In turn, Belarus is Russia’s number one trading partner within the CIS and ranks fourth among all our foreign trade partners with a share close to 5 percent.
Even during the coronavirus pandemic, as the President of Belarus has just mentioned, there has been some positive momentum in our bilateral economic cooperation. In particular, according to the data we have, in the first eight months of 2021 bilateral trade increased by almost 36 percent to US$24 billion, while Mr Lukashenko has data for the first nine months: the numbers could be approaching US$28 billion, which is a very robust result.
Multifaceted sectoral ties and industrial cooperation between Russia and Belarus are also picking up steam with new shared value chains and a growing common transport infrastructure. We are carrying out high-tech, research-intensive projects, including the construction of a nuclear power station in Belarus – the first unit was launched this year.
I would like to remind you about the proposal put forward by Belarus; the President of Belarus also mentioned this in his remarks. It deals with adding a Belarusian cosmonaut to the International Space Station crew. Yesterday, we discussed this with Roscosmos executives in Sochi. We are ready to support this proposal and to carry it out soon. We need to agree on some aspects, but these are not challenging matters, so I am sure we will resolve them.
As for integration, we will not rest on our laurels. The President of Belarus said we would be approving a comprehensive and far-reaching document today: the Guidelines for Implementing the Provisions of the Treaty Establishing the Union State for 2021–2023. This is the fruit of lengthy, intensive, and sometimes challenging talks between our governments and corresponding agencies. Mr Lukashenko and I kept a close eye on the progress of these talks.
This document covers 28 sectoral Union programmes designed to promote a coordinated macroeconomic strategy, introduce unified taxation principles, which is extremely important, implement a common policy in the credit and financial and banking sectors, in industry and agriculture, harmonise regulations for the unified oil, gas and electric power markets and for transport services.
By the way, I have just mentioned the oil and gas markets. We keep a close eye on these matters since they are very important and often cause controversy and heated debate. Nevertheless, even in this sphere we have achieved serious progress. You are probably aware of what has been going on in the global oil and gas markets. Today, Belarus receives natural gas from Russia at a price that is seven or eight times, and at certain points, nine or ten times lower than the European spot markets. Even if we are talking about gas supplies to our consumers under Gazprom’s long-term contracts and make a comparison with them, the price Belarus pays is still three or four times lower. This concerns the people of Belarus and the households there that get energy at the lowest possible price. This also benefits the entire Belarusian economy and its industry, placing it in a favourable competitive environment, which facilitates its development.
By carrying out these sectoral integration programmes, Russia and Belarus can create an equal and unified business environment. The two economies will follow common rules and standards, which creates new, truly broad opportunities to promote their progress and will benefit all sectors without exception.
Of course, full economic integration would be impossible without progress on establishing a single migration and visa space. It is essential that we fully deliver on the promise of unimpeded labour mobility and guarantee our citizens the freedom of movement while taking into consideration all associated security risks. This is the purpose of the Union State Migration Policy Concept as drafted by our governments. A lot has been done on this front as well.
Building the Union State is not just about intertwined economies, but also about coordinating our efforts in other spheres, including political and defence matters. The President of Belarus has mentioned this as well. In this regard, it is essential that we facilitate close ties between Russian and Belarusian ministries and agencies. Of course, the role of the Permanent Committee of the Union State will be growing.
Creating an atmosphere of stability and security along our external borders has special importance in this context. We will work together to counter any attempts to interfere in the domestic affairs of sovereign states. Make no mistake, Russia will continue supporting the brotherly people of Belarus.
The Union State will make meaningful progress in promoting integration. At the end of the day, this will improve the standard of living and wellbeing of our people. Of course, we will keep up our targeted efforts to give new significance to the Union State and fully unlock its creative potential.
Thank you for your attention.