MOSCOW, 7 February (BelTA) – The Belarus-Russia integration group set up by the decision of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin should work out a joint action plan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Russia Vladimir Semashko told reporters on 7 February, BelTA has learned.
“It is a lengthy and complicated process. We need to take stock of our progress in implementing the Union State Treaty of 1999 and to analyze our failures and the reasons for them, as well as the tasks that have already lost their relevance and new tasks to address. This will be a comprehensive program. Proceeding from my experience, I assume it will take 1.5 years, maybe two years or even longer,” the ambassador said.
He warned against combining two domains of Belarus-Russia relations. “One of them is the work of this group and development of some recommendations. We need to draft a whole set of bills, pass all the domestic procedures, finalize them and then we may put some of them to a referendum; decisions on some of them will probably have to be made both in Russia and in Belarus. Only after that, we will pass them and make certain strategic decisions. Simultaneously we should address some current burning issues,” Vladimir Semashko said.
Speaking about the forthcoming meeting of the presidents of Belarus and Russia scheduled for 13 February, the ambassador noted that its agenda had already been formalized. “First of all, it is about the work sequence and the areas of focus of the working group that was set up by the decision of the presidents and is co-chaired by Russia's Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin and his Belarusian counterpart Dmitry Krutoi. I guess, they will have to give an account of what has already been done, what is in progress and what is to be done in the future,” the ambassador said.
Vladimir Semashko noted that the previous rounds of highest-level talks that took place on 25 and 29 December 2018 were held in a constructive way. “Regardless of what some people say, the parties, in particular on 29 December, came to an agreement that something had to be done and found common ground on what should be done. In am nearly 100% certain that the decision on the tax maneuver, oil and gas and other matters will be made on 13 February. There are also other important issues, like meat and dairy supplies, mutual supplies of machinery. These matters are most likely to dominate the agenda of the meeting on 13 February,” he noted.