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No problems in Russia-Belarus relations that might endanger Union State — official

All issues can be solved, they are of routine nature, the Union State’s state secretary Grigory Rapota says

MINSK, October 9. /TASS/. Russia and Belarus are capable of promptly resolving the arising problems and there are no issues in bilateral relations that might endanger the further development of the Union State, the Union State’s state secretary Grigory Rapota said before a meeting of the High Level Group of the Union State’s Council of Ministers on Thursday.

“All issues can be solved, they are of routine nature. There are no issues that might endanger the development of the Union State,” Rapota said. At the same time, he acknowledged that in bilateral relations there sometimes emerged “misunderstandings that require a dialogue.”

Several days ago there were plans to raise for discussion the issue of compensations to Belarus for losses from Russia’s tax maneuvre in the oil industry. “It is not on the agenda. If either party raises it, though, then it will be a subject matter for discussion,” Rapota said.

As TASS reported earlier, Russia and Belarus on Wednesday agreed that in 2015 all taxes on oil products produced in Belarus of Russian oil and exported to third countries would go to the Belarusian budget. The decision was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

Oil supplies to Belarus — a member of the Common Economic Space — for processing at Belarussian refineries are not taxable. Under the existing pattern, Minsk compensates for Russia’s losses resulting from the exemption by transferring to the Russian budget half of the taxes on the export of oil products that the Belarusian refineries produce of Russian oil (about $1.5 million).

This compensation pattern overlaps with the Russian government-approved “tax maneuvre” in the oil industry — a reduction of taxes and simultaneous increase in the mineral resources production tax, which is bound to push up Russia’s internal prices of oil, which is also effective for Belarus. The profitability of Belarusian oil refineries would fall and the industry might lose about $1 billion, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said earlier.

Implementing integration projects

The Russian and Belarusian prime ministers may discuss the implementation of five integration projects at the Union State Council of Ministers on October 21, Rapota said on Thursday. “There is no separate issue (on integration projects) on the agenda of the upcoming session of the Union State Council of Ministers. But the prime ministers (of Russia and Belarus) will discuss this issue regardless,” Rapota said.

There are several issues, which will be discussed at the high-level group’s session on Thursday, will be in the focus of the upcoming Union State Council of Ministers session scheduled for October 21, Rapota said.

About 20 issues are expected to be discussed. Some of them demand additional measures. The high-level group will discuss the project concerning priority tasks of further development of the Union State in the mid-term (2014-2017). “The Russian and Belarusian presidents gave such instructions,” Rapota said.