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Moscow, Minsk to finalize integration package in 3 days — Belarusian deputy premier

Economic agreements take the center stage of the package, the Belarusian official said

MINSK, December 24. /TASS/. Belarus and Russia are to finalize the entire package of integration roadmaps in three days and submit it for approval to the two states' presidents, Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Krutoy said late on Monday.

"For today, our integration package has been mostly agreed, except for few issues that will be clarified in the next two or three days. We will choose the time for a ceremony during which it will be signed or initialed by our leaders. This would give an unprecedented new impetus to our relations," Krutoy said at an event at the Russian embassy to mark the 20th anniversary of signing of the Union State Treaty.

Economic agreements take the center stage of the package, the Belarusian official said.

He added that at first, integration efforts proceeded "very slowly."

"There is nothing unusual about it, especially in recent years, when the Russian Federation found itself in a very complicated situation. In fact, it was facing unprecedented external pressure and was forced to transform its economic and financial policies," the Belarusian first deputy premier continued. "We, as closest partners, thought that to a significant extent it was directed against us. Russian colleagues from relevant agencies explained that it was not so, and today we can feel it."

"All those ‘wars’ that we had - gas, oil, sugar... problems with supplies of tractors, or milk, or something else - of course they had left the mark of absolutely unhealthy confrontation on our industry regulators. This hampered our efforts at the first stage of work," Krutoy went on. "But when people understood that this is serious, that this is an attempt to build economic relations on a new basis, that we don’t need to fear most progressive forms of cooperation and contacts, the process has moved off, frankly speaking."

Russia’s Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin said following top-level bilateral talks between Russia and Belarus in St. Petersburg on December 20 that the oil, gas and tax issues remain unapproved within the Union State. It is necessary to solve those three groups of issues to finalize all integration roadmaps, Oreshkin said, adding that all in all there were 31 such roadmaps.