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Integration of Russia, Belarus should not be rushed, Putin says

We are moving in this direction with confidence, this work has already yielded specific results to our citizens, Russian President noted

SOCHI, May 28. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin is confident that the integration in the Union State of Russia and Belarus should proceed in accordance with the interests of the parties without a rush.

"You and I are involved in the issues of building the Union State, we are doing it, as we’d agreed, proceeding from the premise of ensuring the interests of both Belarus and Russia," the Russian head of state said at a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on Friday. "We are moving in this direction with confidence, this work has already yielded specific results to our citizens," Putin noted.

In his opinion, "the only issue is to do everything consistently, without hurry, without getting ahead but proceeding gradually, keeping in mind precisely our interests, the way each party defines it for itself."

On building the Union State

The process of integration of the two states has been underway for over 20 years being complicated by differing strategic interests of the parties and a number of economic problems in Russian-Belarusian relations. According to the 1999 agreement on the Union State, the creation of the union involves the adoption of the constitution and establishment of supranational bodies, including a two-chamber parliament, a court of justice and an accounts chamber, as well as the development of a single economic space, the introduction of a single currency and establishment of a single emission center. Besides, the agreement involves the unification of energy systems, negotiation of trade and customs policy and introduction of a single tax system. These processes continue to this day.

In December 2018, Putin and Lukashenko made a decision to form an intergovernmental working group on developing the integration. By November 2019, the parties prepared drafts of 31 roadmaps listing measures on creating common markets in various economic spheres. These steps include, among others, the unification of tax legislation, creating conditions for common oil and gas, industrial, agricultural and transport markets.

By December 2019, the governments of the two countries had coordinated the majority of the roadmaps yet couldn’t reach an agreement on some of them. The Belarusian side links expanded integration with a lower price for Russian natural gas, tax concessions, and lifting restrictions on supplies of its products to the Russian market. According to Lukashenko, if these "key issues" are not resolved, "no roadmaps can be signed." On February 22, 2021, the Belarusian president at a meeting with Putin in Sochi reported that the countries had 6-7 integration roadmaps "left to work on.".