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Belarus leader says ties with West cannot substitute for Russia

January 15, 2015, 13:22 UTC+3 MINSK
According to the president, Belarus will be building relations with the EU and the US consistently and intentionally
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Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko

© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MINSK, January 15. /TASS/. Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has been steering his country towards closer ties with the West, said no one can replace traditional friendly relations with Russia.

“We have established multi-format relations with Russia and treat it as a brotherly state,” Lukashenko said in his address to the parliament on Thursday.

Despite certain tensions between the two former Soviet states, namely the recent food dispute, the Belarusian president said Moscow has always helped Minsk when in need.

Lukashenko said while in talks with the European Union and the United States, Belarus asks them the same question: “will you be a substitute for Russia?” “The example of Ukraine has shown what comes out of this friendship - getting sucked into a bog.”

The Belarusian leader said the country’s trade with Russia and the European Union member-states is almost at an equal level. “Why should we not cooperate with them? The relations are a kind of different but we need to build them,” he said.

“We will be building relations with the EU and the US consistently and intentionally,” Lukashenko said, adding that “no one should get nervous about this.”

Lukashenko said Belarus is not outraged by Russia’s huge effort to normalize its relations with the West. “You should not be angry either,” he stressed. “We need to calm down and work as normal,” he said.

Last month, Lukashenko said Russia “behaved improperly” by banning certain Belarusian foodstuffs from its market. Moscow said this move came in a bid to stop prohibited products from European suppliers being unloaded in Russia and finding their way onto the domestic market.

Controls are in force in retaliation for Western sanctions against Russia over crisis in Ukraine.

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