Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with State Secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union State Pavel Borodin


The subject of discussion was preparations for the next regular meeting of the Union State Council of Ministers. As Mr Putin stressed, the agenda should be agreed as much as possible “so that we can reach decisions allowing us to develop relations with Belarus in all priority areas.”

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Preparations for a meeting with our Belarusian colleagues have entered the final stage. I am referring to the session of the Union State government. What still needs to be done in the near future to finish these preparations and pave the way for good results?

Pavel Borodin: Mr Putin, the Council of Ministers is scheduled to meet on March 15 in Minsk, and on March 2, I am meeting with Mr Myasnikovich [Mikhail Myasnikovich, Prime Minister of Belarus] and his team. We are now discussing the items we will submit for the agenda of the Council of Ministers. There are about forty issues, including the financial crisis and its effects, trade and steps to increase it, and goods flow. There are also trade and economic cooperation results and fulfilment of economic treaties to consider – we have something like 200 such treaties between Belarus and Russia.

Socio-economic development will also be reviewed – it is the fifth item on the agenda. Moreover, we have agreed all fuel and energy balances. Per your directive, we have signed them all. I think the issue will be simple and straightforward because the Belarusians today receive 95% of their energy from Russia, as well as between 45% and 80% of component parts. All these items have been discussed. There are a few problems. For example, with the customs. They are keeping back a bit though the Customs Committee of the Union State is doing a good job, as you know.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, the customs authorities are working constructively.

Pavel Borodin: In the 11 years that the Union State has existed they have held 28 meetings. We have some items on the agricultural strategy we adopted at the Council of Ministers in Moscow last October. You gave us your full backing for the Union State’s farming policy. Now we need to tell the ministries and government departments to put their heads together and review all the figures – something we discussed with Mr Myasnikovich.

We have items on communications, because we are adopting a new programme there. There are also items on a joint military technical transport flow scheme. We will mention that trade increased 22% and goods flow by 50% last year. That will be discussed at the Council of Ministers’ meeting as well. The item on a common information space will likewise be there. There are some problems, though. I think our ministries and government departments should be told to prepare more detailed backgrounds for these items. Because it is one thing to draft a strategy and another to put it into figures… When the Council of Ministers met in Brest, you spoke of very rigid timelines for our decisions and our Union programmes.

There are also items concerning communications and the migration policy. They were discussed in a very productive way both in Brest and in Moscow. Now we expect to examine them, too. Countering terrorism and military-technical cooperation are other issues to be discussed. There are changes to the grouping of armed forces. There are also new semiconductor communications systems we are adopting. Taken together, there are 39 items on the agenda. They also include three to four problems whose solution may take some time. But I think you will tell your deputies to… We are working with ministries and departments and hold meetings on a weekly basis, discussing and preparing materials for the Council’s meeting. I’m sure you remember the previous meeting, where a detailed analysis of many issues was carried out. There were also 29 items on the agenda and all of them were agreed in full.

And, of course, we would like to have your support for our programme of treating Chernobyl victims, the elderly and children, an issue you have mentioned repeatedly. This is our programme. We have accepted it and are treating vast numbers of people in Belarus and Russia.  

Vladimir Putin: Good.

Pavel Borodin: We are also planning a youth festival and other festivals of the Union State. So all the items add up to 39.

Vladimir Putin: Good. The items range from the economy to social welfare and cooperation in other areas. They need to be thoroughly examined with our Belarusian colleagues so that the items should be agreed as much as possible and so that we can reach decisions allowing us to develop relations with Belarus in all priority areas, including a new quality of our ties stemming from a common economic space.

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