18 july 2012

Dmitry Medvedev holds a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State of Russia and Belarus

The Russian prime minister said that this was his first meeting as chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union State.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Myasnikovich, meeting delegates, ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank our Belarusian guests for the warm reception and hospitality they have shown to the Russian delegation in Minsk.

This is the first meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State that I am holding as Chairman of the Council of Ministers. I have already been congratulated and warned about the responsibility, which I, of course, have taken to heart. I also want to say that this is first meeting that involves Grigory Rapota, State Secretary of the Union State. I wish Mr Rapota success in this important position.

The agenda is packed with two dozen items, and we really have a lot to discuss. I just told Mr Myasnikovich and Mr Rapota that the atmosphere in the Union State and, by extension, at meetings of the Council of Ministers, depends on the atmosphere in Russian-Belarusian relations. We are now in a period of concentrating our efforts to strengthen our strategic partnership. Accordingly, there is a deepening of integration processes within the Union State, the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. And I would like to say that Russia's integration with Belarus remains our top priority.

This is my third meeting with Mr Myasnikovich over the past 45 days – we met in St Petersburg and at international forums before – to discuss various aspects of cooperation.

Our mutual trade is growing, as I mentioned during our bilateral talks. We have just signed a general contract to build a nuclear power plant in Belarus. This is an ambitious project estimated at $10 billion. I hope that it will have the desired multiplier effect and will, of course, be the flagship of the Russian-Belarusian cooperation. However, we should not limit ourselves to this nuclear project, since we have a whole set of other very important and major projects that are currently being tested, which I hope will eventually be implemented.

We will discuss topics of practical importance, such as balances of energy resources and supply and demand balances for key product types of the Union State. Experts have worked on these issues and, hopefully, we will not need to further discuss them. We will thoroughly analyse progress in building the transport system. This issue has been agreed as well. Of course, it is very important for us to adopt an action plan for implementing the concept for the social development of the Union State in 2012. This is an absolute priority that is key to solving many routine problems faced by people in Russia and Belarus.

The agenda includes innovation-driven development, aerospace cooperation and the introduction of composite materials and innovative technologies in agriculture. This is the potential that our Union State enjoys. I am positive that this agenda fully corresponds to the objectives of our countries. We will need to look into the implementation of past decisions regarding the formation of the union and hear reports about execution of the 2011 Union State budget. In addition, we have one other issue that we need to consider. It has to do with the establishment of a high-level group. This issue has been agreed upon as well. I would like Mr Yavlinsky to report on the matter, unless you have other suggestions. I also propose including this issue in the agenda of the meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State.

Before turning the floor over to Mr Myasnikovich, I would like to say that we are really looking forward to the standing committee actively engaging in this work and seeing its potential and control functions used to the fullest. We want the decisions that we make to actually be implemented; we want this body to engage in meaningful work rather than operate like a post office. I hope that Mr Yavlinsky will be able to organise precisely this kind of work at the standing committee. That's all I wanted to say at the beginning of our meeting. I turn the floor over to Mr Myasnikovich. Please go ahead.

Mikhail Myasnikovich: Thank you. Good afternoon, members of the Council of Ministers of the Union State. Colleagues, please join me in congratulating Mr Medvedev on his appointment to the high position of chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union State and wish him success in his work.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you.

Mikhail Myasnikovich: You know, sometimes they ask me and even I ask myself occasionally whether the Union State is losing significance due to the creation of the Common Economic Space of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Let’s reconsider this issue. In fact, they are complementary. In the Union State we have what’s not yet available in the CES. We have a shared budget and lots of exciting and breakthrough programmes that underlie the innovation-driven development of our economies. We can use the Union State to effectively address issues of cultural, military and technological cooperation. In other words, there are certain things that are not yet addressed by the Customs Union. I think that this is a recipe for success. And the projects and programmes that we are going to discuss today are indeed a real mechanism for investing in the future – these are our programmes.

Of course, I would like to have more investment, innovation projects and breakthrough projects. And I am very grateful to Mr Medvedev that we agree and have full mutual understanding – we have, in fact, already begun to form a group of scientists and engineers who will work on promising areas of innovation in our economies. The Belarusian side has conveyed an associated proposal to the government of the Russian Federation. I think that in the third quarter, or maybe early in the fourth, we can have a detailed examination of the proposals.

There are a number of projects in the field of quantum systems, information technology, biotechnology – these, of course, are what determine the development of the economy, but they also provide for the national security of our states. So, I think that the accumulated experience of the Union State will be very useful for the Eurasian Union, the formation of which, I think, will be expedited. We were very interested in reviewing initiatives with Grigory Rapota on improving the style and methods of the work of the Standing Committee. We believe that these initiatives are constructive and relevant. I support Mr Medvedev's proposal to include this issue in the agenda and hear the relevant information for decision-making.

Mr Mededev, given that our countries are already working on the formation of projections, not only, say, for the next fiscal year, but also for a three-year plan, I think maybe we in the Standing Committee of the Union State also need to look at planning for a three-year period. This will enable us to more thoroughly consider the long-term projects for medium-term development. Thank you for your attention.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Myasnikovich. Let's start looking at the issues on the agenda.