Updated at 15:15,21-01-2021

'Eurasian Economic Union treaty different from initial one': Lukashenka goes back or bargains?

Belsat / BelTA

The Eurasian Economic Union treaty is a compromise and is different from the treaty that Belarus counted on and that partners stated initially. Belarus President Aliaksandr Lukashenka state before his going to Kazakhstan to take part in the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at the level of heads of state.

The work on the Eurasian Economic Union treaty is in the final stretch and the document is supposed to be signed in Kazakhstan's capital Astana on 29 May just the way the three presidents have agreed. 'Our views have been understandable and clear from the start. However, we've been criticized recently and Russian mass media are particularly brutal, saying that Lukashenka is bargaining for something and trying to sell his signature at a higher price. This is why we absolutely honestly and sincerely stated that just like Russia and Kazakhstan we will go where our country can profit because national interests prevail,' he stressed.

'We have never been cheapskates, we have never demanded more from our partners and neighbors than we contributed to the common cause. As a result, the treaty that we can sign is kind of a compromise. Unfortunately, it is not the treaty that Belarus counted on and not the treaty that our partners, primarily the Russian Federation, stated initially,' Mr Lukashenka said.

'We didn't force anyone to talk about an economic union, a full-fledged Customs Union. The treaty was suggested without any exemptions and restrictions. It is supposed to virtually found one country from the economic point of view, operation rules of the three economies are supposed to be absolutely the same and to be in the same legal environment. It was what Russia stated primarily with Kazakhstan's backing,' he noted. 'We understood that their economies are somewhat different from ours and even a lot different from ours. Their economies are based on raw materials, oil, gas and so on. It will be difficult for us to operate without exemptions and restrictions in these conditions, nevertheless, we have stated that we will go for it.'

'Years later some calculations have resulted in tears. It turns out that they cannot live without exemptions and restrictions. They have shifted some matters from the treaty into bilateral relations such as oil, gas, medications and other areas. So we cannot but agree,' the Belarusian leader said. He pointed out that there are no essential problems in bilateral relations with Kazakhstan. As far as Russia is concerned, Belarus needed to come to terms regarding the oil issue. 'We have agreements on natural gas. We could do the same with regard to oil, including the volume of deliveries, the transfer of customs duties on oil products. We transfer up to $4 billion in customs duties on oil products to the Russian budget after refining their oil. We asked why we have to share our profits if we talk about a full-value economic union. We were told that oil is a specific product and therefore the scheme will stay in place for now. We raised the issue point blank. And not because we are bargaining for something although it may be natural but because Russia suggested dealing with the issue via bilateral relations. This is why we have started these talks,' he said.

Aliaksandr Lukashenka stressed that they had managed to resolve a lot of issues, including the transfer of customs duties. 'Next year the Belarusian budget will keep $1.5 billion. The matter is open for discussion and we have reached a firm agreement with the president of Russia that we are going to fix the issue once and for all in order to leave the money in the Belarusian budget. If we manage it, we will not have to beg for money to balance payments,' the President noted. He reminded that the sides had reached an agreement on automobiles, automobile transportation, on oil quotas, that Belarus would get at least 23 million tonnes of oil. 'If we want, we may get even more if all of a sudden we want to build a new oil refinery,' he said.

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Belarus struck a deal with Russia regarding oil supplies that will meet the country's full demand; export duties on oil products will be gradually lifted, Russia is to transfer $2 bn loan to Belarus, President Aliaksandr Lukashenka said on May, 9. At that, he added that Belarus was not going to block the signing of the treaty to establish the Eurasian Economic Union. It is evident that Mr Lukashenka was paid the price he had set for further Eurasian integration.