Semashko: Russia was, is and will remain the main ally of Belarus

Mr Ambassador, today is the Day of unity of peoples of Belarus and Russia. Recent interest in the Union state has increased significantly, discussions about his future went far beyond scientific conferences and classrooms. How do you assess prospects of further integration in the Union state, how do you see future relations between Russia and Belarus?

pipeline: Since the establishment of diplomatic relations – and this is more than a quarter century – Belarus and Russia are consistently developing and expanding strategic partnerships. Last year marked 20 years from the date of signing the Treaty on establishing the Union state of Belarus and Russia.

the Treaty is of fundamental importance for the development of stable and sustainable political, economic and humanitarian relations between our countries. Some two decades ago, the priorities of the joint development and now remain for us the main strategic guidelines of the Union of the future.

the Created model of inter-state relations is quite effective. No doubt the political and economic realities of the Union state, which many experts, including foreign ones, is considered the most advanced of all post-Soviet integration projects, and in some ways even superior to such formations as, for example, the European Union.

the Most distinctive feature of the Union state can be considered special attention to the “human dimension”. The real benefits of the Union today, felt millions of Belarusians and Russians. Between our countries there is no alienation, there is freedom of movement and employment, social protection, equal access to health services and education.

Photo: Alex Matûša Grigorith Rapota has visited with a working trip to Minsk

the Federal government has enormous economic, scientific, intellectual and personnel potential. Since 2000, the Belarusian-Russian trade turnover grew from 9.3 billion USD, almost four times exceeding the end of 2019 35 billion. Due to the close economic relations of a small Belarus has become huge for Russia’s fourth largest trade partner.

Today the Belarusian products are present on markets of almost all Russian regions. The government of Belarus signed cooperation agreements with more than 70 constituent entities of the Russian Federation. Between regions and individual cities of Belarus and Russia there are about 400 treaties and agreements to develop business and cultural relations. Russia has created nearly a thousand enterprises with Belarusian participation. In turn, in Belarus there are about two and a half thousand enterprises with Russian capital.

Thanks to the Union state, we share the most modern, advanced technologies. Suffice it to recall such projects as the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power station or the establishment of a Belarusian-Russian spacecraft remote sensing of new generation.

an Important instrument of cooperation are the target of the program of the Union state. In their development and implementation involves dozens of scientific and production teams of the two countries. The total amount of funds allocated since 2000, the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation on the implementation of Union programmes exceeded 50 billion Russian rubles.

Due to the close economic relations of a small Belarus has become huge for Russia’s fourth largest trade partner

last year the Belarusian and Russian sides have done a noble work. Prepared and initialed by the heads of government renewed the Programme of action of the two countries under the Treaty on the Union state. Line ministries and agencies were deployed to work on the preparation of 30 “road maps” on formation of unified markets of the Union state. Their adoption and implementation would be a major step forward in all areas of integration.

However, by the time of completion of the “roadmap” was not fulfilled one of the basic conditions of the Belarusian side – the resolution of all actual of great urgency in the current 2020 of issues of bilateral cooperation. The President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly emphasized that the signing of the new integration agreement is possible only with the batch principle. Thus, the lack of real movement on energy subjects, elimination of barriers and creation of equal conditions for economic entities without unilateral exemptions and restrictions has not allowed to sign the prepared documents.

Photo: Sergey Pivovarov / RIA Novosti the Russian military will take part in the Victory Parade in Minsk

Today, the governments of the two countries enter into certain agreements on settling the situation that has developed in our relationship in the beginning of this year. This is a good signal. The decision of problem questions of bilateral cooperation creates preconditions to resume consideration of the elaborated documents on deepening our integration.

But it is obvious that the road map will have to be updated because of the inherent timing of the implementation of stages of integration were originally very compressed. For example, on a number of fronts by the middle of this year, envisaged the formation of a unified legislation. Today it is obvious that this is done within the stipulated time will not be. And indeed the situation in our region and the world at large in recent days and weeks, forces us to rethink certain elements of cooperation and adjust them to conform to the current realities.

Between our countries very closely, but all the time there are any disputes over oil and gas. After talks with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Rumas said that Belarus has presented to Russia new proposals for deliveries to the Republic of Russian oil. Could you explain what is this proposal? And what price will eventually cost the Russian oil for Belarus? Will Belarus seek alternative supplies.

pipeline: Indeed, despite the very close cooperation between the two countries, from time to time, unfortunately, there are some disputes over oil and gas. It has not been such that we have these disputes are not decided. And this year is no exception.

recently we managed to find a mutually acceptable solution to the current 2020 under the terms of Russian oil deliveries to Belarus. This decision is based on a reduction of the award of Russian oil companies in the formula the price of oil at $ 7 per ton. The remaining part of the premium in the amount of 4.7 USD per tonne will be compensated within the framework of interbudgetary relations of Belarus and Russia. Therefore, we expect that in the remaining part of the year we will be able to quickly increase shipments to go out by 2020, figures that are close to originally planned.

But it should be noted that the exclusion of bonus payments from the pricing of crude oil supplied to Belarus, solves the problem only the current 2020, and that if the oil price will not exceed this year 40-45 dollars per barrel. In the future, solving the problem of creating a common market of oil and oil products of the Union state, Belarusian and Russian refineries must have exactly the same terms of compensation costs from the “tax maneuver”.

Unconditionalbut, most of the required volume of oil we will get from Russia, because here the important role played by logistical convenience and technological orientation of the Belarusian oil refineries for processing of crude oil Urals. However, the leadership of the concern “Belneftekhim”, the task of increasing domestic production of oil with time-tested foreign partners and to seek alternative sources of supply of oil to continue to not get into a difficult situation.

as for United energy markets, we are optimists.

first, common markets of oil and oil products, gas and common electricity market provided for by the Treaty on the Eurasian economic Union. We are planning to create them, as you know, by 2025. In the framework of the Eurasian economic Union adopted the relevant policy documents.

in Addition, last year we made an attempt to develop and adopt a road map for the markets for gas, oil and petroleum products and electricity, as well as the development of nuclear energy in the framework of the Union state with a much more compressed time frame. During the negotiation process, we saw a common desire of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation to develop these markets. Differences remain in the approaches of the parties to the individual elements of the methodology of formation of unified markets, principles of their functioning. This is something we continue to work at present.

Photo: Pixabay What kind of books reflects the profound relationship of the peoples of Belarus and Russia

2020 Belarus will preside in the EEU. What should be the real economic integration? What excites today the countries belonging to the Union? What initiatives of Belarus and how they are perceived?

pipeline: As you know, the basis for the creation of the Eurasian economic Union is based on the idea of formation of integration structures, under which States parties are free movement of goods, services, capital and labour.

on this Basis, the parties signed the Treaty on the EAEU on 29 may 2014, and committed itself to pursue a coordinated economic policy and adopt a joint program of strategic development on a pragmatic and mutually beneficial economic basis.

In this regard, real economic integration the Belarusian side understands the parties ‘ compliance with commitments. At the same time, it is important to realize that the implementation of these tasks requires parties serious and demanding work. Today we can say that the initial stage of formation of the EEU as a whole is completed. Now it is necessary to provide a continuous process for improving the common economic space, eliminate having another place obstacles in the movement of goods and services, harmonization of non-tariff barriers and foreign customs duties, coordination of fiscal policy and other measures. To this end, the parties are working on harmonization of the draft of a document defining the strategic directions of development of the Eurasian economic integration until 2025, which is expected to approve within the framework of the Supreme Eurasian economic Council on may 19, 2020.

as for the initiatives of the Belarusian side, they were marked with the address of the President of the Republic of Belarus to the heads of the EAEU member States in connection with the presidency of our country from 1 January 2020, the Union bodies. The priorities of the Belarusian chairmanship in the Eurasian economic Union is formed based on the quinquennial experience of the existence of the Union and reflect all of the actual problems of its functioning. The implementation of our proposals, primarily aimed at the progressive development of the institutional framework of the EAEU and improving the quality of interaction of States – memberyongee’s Union, the mandatory implementation by all States of the decisions taken. Proposed by the Republic of Belarus areas of work are fully consistent with the overall interests of the five, therefore, are perceived positively by our partners.

At the same time in the complications of the epidemiological situation in connection with the spread of coronavirus infection COVID-19 the primary task of the member States of the EAEC at the present stage is to maintain macroeconomic stability, maintenance sanitary-epidemiological well-being, mutual trade in commodities and freedom of movement of labour in the territories of member States. Let’s hope that we will be able to overcome the situation and return to the implementation of early agreements in the normal mode.

Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/ RIA Novosti Dmitry Patrushev: Belarus is in first place among our partners

Another actively discussed topic is the foreign policy of Belarus. We see that an increasingly active interest in the Republic are countries in the West and the US in particular. Visit Michael Pompeo in Belarus, Minsk may soon return the American Ambassador, which was not more than ten years. Will not affect whether the intensification of contacts between Minsk and Washington on allied relations between Belarus and Russia?

pipeline: Any country is interested in the normalization of relations with all other States. For Belarus, development of relations with the United States is very important, first of all it concerns the trade-economic relations and political dialogue with them with the aim of lifting previously imposed sanctions. But I don’t see the point in opposition to normalized relations with United States strategic allied relations with Russia. We have no plans, as they say, of “taking care of Belarus to the West”, and intensification of our relations with Washington does not prevent us to continue the implementation of the allied relations with Russia. The Russian Federation was, is and will remain our primary ally and strategic partner.

Since the appointment you have made dozens of trips to the Russian regions, meet with their leaders in Moscow. How would you rate the current level of interregional relations, some examples of the most successful regional projects could call? Where this year will take place next, become already traditional forum of the regions of the two countries?

pipeline: Yes, indeed the Head of state and President of the Russian Federation repeatedly stressed in their speeches that cooperation at the interregional level is the basis for economic cooperation between the two countries.

Great attention is paid to regional relations, not only in foreign ministries but also at parliamentary level. Already the traditional annual Forum of regions of Belarus and Russia under the aegis of the upper chambers of the parliaments. Agenda for the forums is very extensive – from the most important issues of cooperation in the sphere of industry, agriculture, innovations and information technology to humanitarian activities, youth policy, Patriotic education of youth and others.

as the Ambassador of Belarus in Russia a very clear understanding of the importance of cooperation of Belarus with the Russian Federation. We have diplomatic slang is called “working in the fields”. So I actively visit Russian regions and meet with their leadership, regional Ministers, heads of corporations, factories and mining enterprises.

the Russian Federation was, is and will remain our primary ally and strategic partner

In the past 2019 was held on 28 visits Belorussky of delegation under my leadership to the regions of Russia. We go there a substantive agenda, with Belarusian Ministers and heads of companies, producing equipment, machinery and equipment, food and other consumer goods. And I want to stress that these visits are very effective. It is also very important that many regional leaders, we have developed not just business and partnerships, but also warm and friendly relations.

as integral indicators of more active work with the Russian regions can be noted that Belarusian exports increased last year by 4.6 percent, and as a result trade deficit decreased by 1.2 billion US dollars. A good indicator in the beginning of this year – exports rose by 8.7 percent.

In regard to the prospects of cooperation, I note that along with production projects in the field of industry, agriculture and energy in recent years actively developing cooperation in providing construction services of the Belarusian construction and road departments and organizations. The first test region in this direction was the Kaluga region. There Belarusian contractors built and are being built residential area “Freckles”, 3 schools per 1 thousand children each and 2 kindergartens. Social objects are under construction with attraction of export credit development Bank of the Republic of Belarus. And this work will be continued in other regions of Russia.

currently in the final stages of elaboration of similar construction projects in Nizhny Novgorod, Voronezh, and Arkhangelsk.

Interregional cooperation remains a solid Foundation of Belarusian-Russian relations.

Photo: Natalia Seliverstova/ RIA Novosti the law on simplification of obtaining Russian citizenship for Ukrainians and Belarusians

Close date is important for our common memory – the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the great Patriotic war. How to prepare for it in Belarus? And what for you personally means 9 May?

pipeline: May 9 has always been a special day in the calendar. It’s not just a holiday, it is one of the great days, revered not only in Belarus and Russia, but also in many other countries around the world. It is difficult to find in our countries the man would somehow not be affected by this war that claimed the lives of tens of millions of soldiers and civilians.

Victory Day care to the Belarusian people, who, along with millions of other Soviet people participated in the struggle against the Nazi invaders, contributed to the liberation of Europe from fascist enslavement. The war had affected every Belarusian family – every third Belarusian has put his life on the altar of Victory. In 1941, on the eve of the war, the population of Belarus amounted to 10.5 million people, was finished in 1945, 7 million.

the Leadership of Belarus has developed an extensive plan of events to be held in honor of the great Victory. Units of the Belarusian army will participate in the military parade in Minsk, they will also be held May 9 at the parade on red square. The Victory parade in Moscow will be shown on Belarusian TV channels.

Belarusians are taking part in works on creation of Rzhev of the memorial to Soviet soldiers in Moscow – the first major monument to the heroism of Soviet soldiers, created in modern Russia.

Veterans of many CIS countries invited to the solemn event in Minsk, Brest and other cities-heroes and cities of military glory of Belarus. All veterans will receive anniversary medals, financial aid and other gifts. All of this is already underway.

To preserve the memory of the great Victory aimed at including the joint project of Belarus and RussiaAI restoration and museumification of the Brest fortress, perhaps the most famous memorial complex in Belarus. The initiative for the reconstruction and repair of objects of the memorial complex with the involvement of funds of the Union state budget was supported at the time of our presidents. The draft envisages the implementation in 2018-2020 16 events with a total funding of more than 319 million Russian rubles. During these two years includes most of the planned activities, which helped to create the most comfortable conditions for tourists during excursions to the Brest fortress.

For me personally, the May 9 Victory Day – a sacred holiday. Us four brothers were raised by parents who made their great contribution to this victory. Father, being a company commander machine gunners at the age of 23, was seriously injured on 28 April 1945 in Berlin already. Mother, saving his wounded at the beginning of June 1941 in the bombing of the city of Orsha 3-year-old younger sister, at the age of 16 were in the Urals in Zlatoust. Prior to October 1945 he worked at the machine for 12-14 hours a day. Parents raised us to love of country and respect for labor. For this they always were and will be grateful to you.

Photo: Pixabay Russia agreed with Belarus on gas prices

What would you wish our readers in the Day of unity of peoples of Belarus and Russia?

pipeline: Dear friends, dear readers! First and foremost I want to wish stability and prosperity of the Union state. Belarusians and Russians equally carefully cherish the centuries-old tradition of brotherhood and good neighbourliness, carried through the years and trials, put them away, passing it on from generation to generation. Common cultural and spiritual values, active development of political, economic and trade ties constitute a solid basis for further strengthening our partnership.

I Wish you all good health, prosperity and confidence in the future. Let brought to life the most ambitious plans, and in our common home of Belarus and Russia always lived in peace and harmony!

the Key question

the world health organization declared the outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19, which began in China and later spread to other countries, pandemic. How is the situation in Belarus?

pipeline: To reduce the risk of proliferation in the Republic of Belarus of infection caused by a coronavirus COVID-19, all structures, without exception, including the Ministry of foreign Affairs, Ministry of health, Ministry of interior, GIC and others, take all necessary measures. The list of these measures is constantly updated based on the current situation.

Photo: Lukashenko has said there is no grounds to postpone presidential elections

the Pandemic is causing health, social and economic problems around the world. Belarus is no exception. Now the main task – to prevent overload of the health system to the number of patients has not exceeded its ability to provide assistance. We apply a specific approach due to strict control of the situation throughout our country.

in Order to function optimally and not to take wrong decisions, Belarus pays much attention to the study of the who recommendations, the experience of China. The who expressed their support and solidarity measures undertaken in Belarus now to combat COVID-19, appreciated the timely and evidence-based approach health system of Belarus to this emergency situation. Considerable effort and resources of the health system was of suchpresented at early detection of cases COVID-19 using laboratory diagnosis, isolation, treatment of patients and contact tracing. This is the key measures recommended by who to interrupt transmission and prevent the spread of coronavirus infection.

as for the work of our diplomatic missions, we continued to provide multifaceted assistance to Belarusian citizens in connection with the restrictive measures because of COVID-19 have difficulty returning home. In a constantly changing restrictive measures, existing on the Belarusian-Russian border, we were able to work out different mechanisms for the return of our citizens from third countries to their homeland. With account taken of the Russian party’s decision to end regular flights, of road and rail transportation agreement that this acute phase will continue clear system of cooperation between the foreign ministries of the two countries to address emerging pressing issues. The Ministry of foreign Affairs and diplomatic and consular missions of Russia and Belarus coordinate their mutual efforts on the provision of assistance to citizens of both countries.