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Lukashenko about our Union: Belarus is not Russia and it never will be

Лукашенко о нашем Союзе: Белоруссия — не Россия и ею никогда не будет

The question of unification of Belarus and Russia in one state is not necessary. About it as transfers BelTA, during the meeting on socio-economic development of the country in 2019 and approaches to further development of integration areas, said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Reasoning about a hypothetical unification he called far-fetched.

Lukashenko noted that the talks about the Union of the two States today, too many, including “the Russians”.

“Now there are a lot of questions in connection with the Church in Ukraine about the autocephaly of our Church in Belarus. I call these questions are very silly, far-fetched to discuss in our society,” he said.

“The President of Russia made clear that today in the agenda this question is not about unification,” — said Lukashenko. He also stressed that the Union of Belarus and Russia can develop only on the basis of equality: “there is No equitable basis — there is no Union.” The President of Belarus also threatened that Russia could lose “only ally in the Western direction”, since the tax maneuver in the oil sector promises to the Belarusian budget is a significant loss.

At the same time Lukashenka noted that virtually all problems in relations with Russia is solved in a “more or less acceptable option.”

Let’s remind, that Belarus will never become part of Russia, and the concept of “sovereignty” in this country is Holy, Lukashenka said in December last year.

“For us, remember, Holy is the sovereignty, I have already talked about this. This relative independence, I think that it is absolutely independent States. And you are also not so independent, but sovereign”, — said the Belarusian leader.

On the question of whether he feels a threat to the sovereignty of Belarus, Lukashenko said that the threat of one party or another, always exists. “I was the President. This is the main issue in the work of the President to ensure the country’s sovereignty is written in the Constitution”, — he stressed.

Recall also that at the end of 2018, the year the Belarusian regional pages “Vkontakte” has launched a survey about attitudes towards inclusion of the country in Russia. The majority of survey participants opposed. Only in Vitebsk supporters of joining Russia was the most — 39 percent versus 33.

On 8 January, the Bloomberg Agency has published the opinion that the President of Russia Vladimir Putin intends to keep his power and to ensure the effect of “by absorption of Belarus”.

According to the authors of the material, the Union with Belarus could be “compensated” for the loss of Ukraine. The Agency emphasizes that in 2024, Vladimir Putin could stand at the head of the Supreme state Council, while retaining a significant portion of its power for life and without having to change the Constitution.

However, as noted in the article, Lukashenko are expected to benefit from economic Union with Russia (cheap oil and gas), however not ready to sacrifice sovereignty. In case of a threat, he could turn for help to the West, but it will undermine his “absolute power” in the country.

According to the analyst, the Deputy Director of the National Institute of modern ideology development Igor Shatrov, Lukashenka’s statements is a form of political bargaining, the usual for the Belarusian President.

— The topic is raised whenever in front of Belarus raises the question of the adoption of some controversial, in the opinion of Minsk, more profitable decisions or perform Minsk to any obligations. This theme is initiated always by the Belarusian side and creates a background for negotiations. As you know, in December last year, during the week, I had already two rounds of talks between Putin and Lukashenko. Leaks from the second meeting it was very little. But, according to available information, on it and first was a tax maneuver in the Russian oil industry. As a result of this maneuver Belarusian refineries have to buy oil in Russia at prices comparable with the world that only a year will deprive the Belarus budget of $ 300 million. Understanding the presidency, it seems, did not come. So, Lukashenko has used well-known technique, remembering independence.

“SP”: — What for Lukashenko independence so important? He doesn’t want to lose power?

— Independence and transit position of the state allow Lukashenko to earn on the contradictions between Europe and Russia and as a result create for its citizens is often an even better social conditions than in Russia. Similarly, in the relations within the Union state all the pros of being in its composition is used as an independent Belarus in full, and all costs imposed on Russia. All this provides a consensus between the government and the main part of the Belarusian society, as a protection against Maidana shocks.

“SP”: — how Many citizens of Belarus would be willing to sacrifice independence to the Union, and the United States?

— I think, if the question of independence is now to put before the Belarusian society and to hold a fair referendum, 40 percent of Belarusians support integration with Russia, 20 percent for the membership in the European Union, and another 40 percent support the idea of independence from Moscow and from Brussels.

“SP”: — in Moscow and in Minsk often criticize the Federal government, they say, never came to what I wanted. Both parties are not willing to sacrifice their sovereignty. Why?

— What is Federal state? It is a single state or a kind of Confederation, like the European Union? If it is similar to the European Union supranational education, the movement in this direction is slow, but happening. Analyzed, by the way, the experiences of the European Union, conclusions from the mistakes of Brussels. For example, take into account the fact that once the EU from economic integration moved to the active political phase, and then the problems started.

If we talk about closer integration, of uniting what it saw at the dawn of creation of the Union state, since that time much water has flowed. While Russia and Belarus were similar. Both States have just seceded from the Soviet Union and had identical political and economic structure. The country in its development went their separate ways, eventually formed a different economic model. Combining these economies can be compared with the unification of the two Germanys, when the socialist economy of the GDR was sacrificed, and the capitalist economies of Germany spread to the entire territory of the United Germany. The role of the GDR, of course, in this case is Belarus, and the role of Germany — Russia. That is, Belarus will have to sacrifice the appearance of stability and the social guarantees to which Lukashenko has taught its citizens during the years of his presidency. And if, even in prosperous Europe through the decades after unification, living standards in the former East Germany is lower than in the rest of Germany, you can imagine the situation in which in the case of enterprises will be the economy of Belarus. Therefore, the talk that only Minsk inhibits better integration of this talk of the evil one. In Moscow, too, perfectly understand that if we act on impulse, very soon you can get West of Smolensk a few million angry Belarusians, fiercely hating Russia.

Yes, in a sense, it’s a trap, in a sense, Russia held hostage by Belarus, which and nurtured. But objectively cheaper to keep Belarus as an independent state than a part of Russia. Think about why neither South Ossetia nor Abkhazia is still not a part of Russia? Certainly not because of concerns about Western sanctions and problems in relations with Georgia.

“SP”: — What do you think the limits of integration? Or is it an endless process?

— Integration as the process of harmonization of legislative framework, establishment of unified norms and rules in all spheres of life, development of joint production chains, may indeed go on forever. And not always, even rarely, the creation of a single state is the ultimate goal of integration.

“SP”: — why, in your opinion, stalled economic integration?

— Under cover of phrases about the non-admission of the Russian oligarchs on the Belarusian market, Lukashenko restricts access to Belarus of Russian big business. For this reason, it is often impossible to effectively use the industrial potential of Belarus, really, saved, not lost in the dashing 90-E. on the other hand, as I said, the overall economy is difficult to develop because of the economic model of States vary.

— In fact, Lukashenko just said only that any Union implies an equal and respectful relationship, says associate Professor of the HSE Pavel Rodkin.

— Indeed, a purely Imperial attitude to Belarus as to the satellites if not common, then not rare in the public consciousness of political and especially quasi-political class in Russia. Lukashenko’s reaction in this respect is correct, this position should be respected in order to develop the Union state and beyond. About the meaning and the spirit of allied relations should be reminded frequently to prevent political misunderstandings, which can be very expensive geopolitical value, out of nowhere.

“SP”: — How can I talk about the independence of Belarus in the framework of the Union state and the Union state?

— Belarus has demonstrated capacity as a state, its economic independence should not be underestimated and discounted. Although, in many ways, it really is based on the relationship that was able to build with Russia. Belarus chose the most realistic and pragmatic path for himself, which strategically meets the interests of Russia. The Federal government is certainly not ideal, but it still shows more stability than other post-Soviet education and structure.

“SP”: — Bloomberg reports that Putin would like to add Belarus as compensation for the loss of Ukraine, and also to preserve their “absolute power.” Thus, in the case of threats, Lukashenka may seek the assistance of the West, but it will undermine already his “absolute power”. How adequate the reality of such a statement?

— Federal government almost from its inception, has always been surrounded by many rumors and political speculations. Actually the aggravation of conspiracy theories about the fate of the Union of Russia and Belarus in recent years in this respect is not original. The scheme of absorption of one state by another, conflict and open rupture, etc. are constantly circulating in the information space, however, is still a Union state, despite the real contradictions and emerging tensions have demonstrated remarkable resilience and vitality.

“SP”: — How deep is the economic integration within the SG, and profitable for Lukashenka to deepen it? To deepen integration, develop the overall economy, and not to knock out Russia to lower gas prices in exchange for some political gestures?

— Economic integration is beneficial to both parties in this process, especially given the negative processes of de-industrialization in Russia and the need to find friendly markets, a space which clearly demonstrates a policy of sanctions, is shrinking. The qualitative deepening of the integration, we can say, pushes life itself. Underdevelopment and the density of the common economic space and creates disparities of development, which are still stabiliziruemost only through political agreements. However, economic assistance to Belarus from Russia is largely exaggerated, the actual subsidies of the Western economy Russia is spending comparable amounts.

“SP”: — What, in your opinion, the limits of integration in the framework of the SG? Can the question of uniting to stand up in the future?

From the integration processes in the Russian-Belarusian direction, one should not expect high-profile political gestures and declarations. This process is evolutionary, in working format. In other words, the limits of integration will be determined by the economic, commercial and cultural relations in which there is still much to be done and establish. The less in the relationship of political populism, so they will be stronger.

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