MOSCOW, March 3. /TASS/. The Union State of Russia and Belarus is capable of overcoming artificial barriers in cooperation, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday.
"We have come such a long way that it will be inexcusable, from the point of view of the peoples of our countries, to lose the velocity of moving forward, let alone artificially spurring disagreements," Lukashenko said at the session of the state council of the Union State.
Over the last two years, trade turnover between Russia and Belarus "has been slightly declining," Lukashenko admitted.
"One of the reasons for that is certainly the unfavorable external economic situation. However, we work not enough ourselves, spur tension in trade relations, imbalance in the economic policy between our countries, and that creates artificial barriers for free movement of goods," he added.
"We need to overcome these barriers," Lukashenko said. "And we will do it," he stressed.
The Union State’s budget for 2015 stands at around 5 billion rubles ($80.3 million), Lukashenko said. Eighty-five percent of this sum was distributed for financing 36 joint projects, he added. "In general, the pricing policy should be more flexible, effective, allowing to concentrate resources in priority spheres," the Belarusian leader noted.
Lukashenko has positively assessed cooperation between the two countries in coordinating foreign policy. "We will discuss the results of fulfilling the program of coordinated actions in the sphere of foreign policy of countries-members of the Agreement on Creating a Union State. We must react appropriately to growing external threats, to regional instability, most of all, with the aim of ensuring the stable development of our countries," he stressed.
It is important not only to develop the common economic space of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, but also to step up cooperation in the framework of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier on Monday. The Union State represents a more advanced stage of integration, Putin noted.
"This time, we gathered to discuss one of the key issues of our cooperation — the development of the Union State, and much has been done in this respect over the last years," Putin said at talks with Lukashenko.
"One does not substitute for another, if we are talking about creating a common market together with Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia, creating common economic space," the president added. "In the framework of the Union State, there are certain issues and tasks that we tackle, and in this sense, it [the Union State] is in some way more advanced, especially if we look at social issues and how we solve them in the interests of our citizens," Putin stressed.
Lukashenko noted that the economic union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan has expanded thanks to Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. "Today, we have an opportunity to formalize all our discussions, negotiations and take concrete decisions. The time is not easy, not easy for the whole world, and it requires action," the Belarusian leader stressed.
Russia and Belarus gathered to discuss the situation in Ukraine and cooperation between the two countries in countering crises in economy at a session of state council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus on Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will pay special attention to "issues of cooperation in dealing with negative tendencies in the economies of the two countries," Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said earlier.
"There is a program document about priority directions [of developing economic cooperation between Russia and Belarus] and primary tasks of development of the Union State for the medium term - 2014-2017," Ushakov said. "Several events have been planned ahead of the session on deepening trade and economic cooperation," he added, noting that this document represents a "joint anti-crisis plan."
It is planned to sign four bilateral documents after the session. In particular, an agreement on exchanging data on Russian and Belarusian citizens restricted from travelling will be signed. Moscow and Minsk will also sign an agreement on joint recognition of restrictions for entering the countries of the Union State, as well as on joint execution of court decisions on alimony. One more document will deal with introducing changes to the agreement of securing equal rights of citizens of the two countries for freedom of movement and residence on the territory of the Union State from January 24, 2006.