No plans to ‘dump’ Russia-Belarus union plans, leaders say

Moscow and Minsk have no plans to “dump” the decade-old project to create the Union State of Russia and Belarus, leaders of the two states said on Friday.

Russia and Belarus signed a deal to establish the Union state on December 8, 1999. Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Lukashenko met on Friday for a meeting of the Union’s ruling body, the Supreme State Council.

“When Dmitry Anatolyevich [Medvedev] and I agreed to convoke the supreme state council, we both noted that we will not dump the Union State project, on the contrary, we will develop it,” Lukashenko said.

“I think we should continue walking this path, we should deepen this cooperation. Though it may get more difficult as we move ahead, we are determined to take this road,” he added.

The Russian president said, in his turn, that the two states “continue work to strengthen Russian-Belarusian integration.”

“This year our cooperation got fresh impetus,” Medvedev said. “Last year it was widely seen that we had serious problems. Well, this year our cooperation became more dynamic and meaningful,” Medvedev said.

The once-strong relations between Moscow and Minsk have been strained recently over several economic and political disputes, including gas transits, and Lukashenko’s failure to honor his promise to recognize the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Belarusian leader also said the two states have faced serious challenges.

“We face great challenges, but we agreed that Russia and Belarus should rise to meet them together,” Lukashenko said.

During the meeting, the two leaders also appointed Grigory Rapota, who served as the Russian president’s envoy in the Volga Federal District since 2007, to the post of the Union State’s new state secretary.

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