Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Lukashenka: Belarus will not quit integration blocs with Russia

Syarhey KARALEVICH, Naviny.by

Lukashenka: Belarus will not quit integration blocs with Russia
Media reports claiming that Belarus intends to quit integration blocs with Russia are not true, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at a lengthy news conference in Minsk on February 3.

At the same time he said that issues were not being resolved within the framework of the Belarusian-Russian Union State.

These issues need to be resolved because we are turning all the Union States meetings into a disgrace, Mr. Lukashenka said.

According to him, Belarus joined integration blocs with Russia in hope that they would be based on equality.

However, Belarus lost $15 billion because of unequal conditions within the framework of the Customs Union, Mr. Lukashenka noted.

The Russians acknowledge this figure, he said. Now they have given us loans totaling $5 billion. Isnt it nice to seize $15 billion due to prices and then lend us our own money, with one third of the funds carrying an interest rate that is three times higher than the interest rate set by the IMF [International Monetary Fund]?

Such a situation is not normal and needs to be settled, Mr. Lukashenka said.

Belarus is not Ukraine, he said. We are not anti-Russian. We are not trying to join NATO. We firmly abide by our agreements on the defense of the territory of Belarus and Russia.

He warned against involving ordinary people in the conflict between the governments of Belarus and Russia.

Do not offend Russians, he said. They come to us and vacation here and they do not do it for free. They are our people. Presidents such as Lukashenka and Putin come and go, but peoples remain. This is the most important thing. And the governments will reach an agreement sooner or later.