The Belarusian president has set the framework for relations with Russia during a major press conference
On March 1st, the president held a press conference with elites and representatives of counter-elites, where he outlined the socio-political and economic situation in Belarus and set the framework for relations with Russia. Lukashenka believes that the unification with Russia is overdue and impossible and aims to further seek equality in decision-making in alliances with Russia.
In Belarus, the president single-handedly determines the foreign (like any other) state policy and informs executives about it using all possible means of communication, including press conferences. Five of seven hours of the ‘Big Talk’, were devoted in one way or another to relations with Russia. The primary message to the elites was that 98% of Belarusians were against the union with Russia since new generations have grown up in a sovereign state and the old ones have learned to live in it. In addition, Russia (at least Putin) has no intention to absorb Belarus. In other words, all possible forms of integration would only base on Belarus’ sovereignty.
On the very integration with Russia, Lukashenka reiterated and clarified the following:
- Decision making will only be based on equality of parties
- Russia does not provide enough compensation for Belarus’ integration efforts
- Belarus will continue to seek compensation for the tax manoeuvre and may take a time out for a year to find an alternative to the Russian oil
- Belarus will continue to insist on a convergence of Russian domestic gas prices and gas prices for Belarus until the creation of a common gas market in 2025
- In foreign policy, Belarus has supported and will continue to support Russia whenever it does not harm Belarus’ interests
- The state will not involve in “soft Belarusisation”, however, it will not interfere with civil society’s efforts in this regard and will prevent the penetration of Russian propaganda
- Belarus has supported and will continue to support Russia on security matters, however, she will not allow Russia to act against other states from her territory.