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MINSK, October 20 (Itar-Tass) — Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he had no ambitions to become president of the Russia-Belarus Union State.
“I was often reproached and even accused that I wanted to run to the Kremlin, grab Monomakh’s cap and, having grabbed it, hold it there in Moscow as a minimum and even take it to Minsk. Total nonsense,” Lukashenko said in an interview with British mass media, fragments of which were released by the presidential press service on Saturday, October 20.
“But I have always said that ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. If you are building a state on such democratic principles of justice and equality, you must be prepared for competition not only with Lukashenko but with others in Belarus as well,” he said.
The president said that it had never even occurred to him that “I was doing this in order to become a president of Russia and Belarus”.
“I had no ambitions because it had not been decided whether there would be president there. It might as well have been a collegiate body,” Lukashenko said, adding, “For that matter, not only Lukashenko but any other Belarusian could have competed for the post”.
At the same time, he said that the idea of creating the Russia-Belarus Union State was “not conceived by one person”.
“It was a part of my election programme, my first election programme – a union with Russia. And I kept my promise. I organised a referendum and people supported me,” Lukashenko said.
Signed by the heads of states in 1999, the Agreement on the Establishment of the Union State of Belarus and Russia laid the foundation for a vibrant integration alliance.
According to the Agreement, Belarus and Russia seek to secure the following eight major goals: ensure peaceful and democratic development, set up uniform economic and customs area, set up a single legal framework, to ensure sustainable economic development, pursue the agreed foreign, defence and social policies, ensure security and fight against crime.
Both countries move on all directions mentioned above gradually. Key focus is made on economy and social issues based on hard-edged principles – securing state sovereignty and territorial integrity of both nations as well as responsible implementation of their international obligations.
Russia is both a key trade partner of Belarus and a major export market for its goods.
Over the previous five years, the Belarus-Russian trade turnover increased five times. The 2008 figures notched up a record, breaking 34 billion U.S. dollars of mutual trade. In 2011 Belarus ranked second in trade with Russia among the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), taking up the sixth place among all major Russian foreign trade counterparts.
In 2011 Russia accounted for 44.9 percent of the aggregate foreign trade and 34 percent of the Belarusian exports. The turnover increased by 37.7 percent compared with 2010 and amounted to 13.7 billion U.S. dollars, the exports increased by 37.5 percent and reached 13.7 billion U.S. dollars, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said.