MINSK, August 9. /TASS/. Minsk is not opposed to integration with Russia within the Union State but this move must not imply any loss of the republic’s statehood and sovereignty, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday.
"When we speak about integration, we must clearly understand that this means integration without any loss of statehood and sovereignty," the Belarusian leader said at a meeting with reporters and public figures.
"We have never opposed the closest union but we have always been kept at bay and now you [Russia] are keeping us at a distance," Lukashenko added.
As the Belarusian leader pointed out, "there have been hints that integration is seen as Belarus’s incorporation into Russia." "We are a sovereign and independent state. When I hear these hints about integration into Russia, I always think in a way similar to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin: does Russia need another headache? No, it doesn’t. This is how the president of Russia understands this. There is no need to take any entity and integrate into some structure when we speak about implementing integration and developing it in the economy as a whole," Lukashenko stressed.
Any inter-state union should be based on equality, including in economic matters, the Belarusian leader said.
"Any union rests on equal conditions and equality. This means equality for people, which we have largely achieved. This is a big achievement credited to both Russians and Belarusians. But how can we integrate if the price of your natural gas is two-or three-times lower than in Belarus?" Lukashenko inquired.