MINSK, September 26. /TASS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko believes his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will not try to prolong his presidential powers in any way, including Belarus’ hypothetical unification with Russia, the news agency BelTA quotes Lukashenko as saying at a meeting with Ukrainian media on Thursday.
"Will you please brush away this suspicion, all this gossip that Putin in 2024 would like to prolong his presidential powers at the expense of Belarus. It’s naive. It’s not for big politics," Lukashenko said.
In mass media, he said, tongues may go on wagging nonstop. "But this is not for Putin, let alone for me, because the prospects and the future existence of Belarus as a state is on the agenda," Lukashenko said.
"There is no idea of merging the two countries, thus prolonging somebody’s powers […] It will look like a cheap trick to try to unite Belarus and Russia and this way to prolong powers," Lukashenko said. "Russia is an enormous, strong and rich country. If the question arises of prolonging the powers of one person, […] listen, they would devise a dozen ways of doing this. What I know for sure is something different: President Putin does not have an aim of preserving himself at the helm at any cost."
Sovereignty and independence concerns
Minsk is determined to boost integration with Moscow and has no concerns about sovereignty and independence, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told the meeting with Ukrainian journalists on Thursday.
"There are too many speculations and incorrect allegations concerning our integration with Russia. Everyone has concerns. But why are they concerned? We are a sovereign and independent state," he said, as cited by the BelTA news agency.
"It is our right [to choose] how to build our policies. We will strengthen our sovereignty and independence, no matter the cost," the Belarusian president pointed out. "Ukraine and Poland influence us to various extents. The Baltic countries have less influence on us, while Russia has more. The world is interdependent," Lukashenko added.
He noted that he had hashed over the sovereignty issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "When I discussed the issue with Vladimir Putin, I told him: ‘If you or some in your government think that we may become part of Russia or somehow unify with Russia to form a single state, put it out of your mind’," Lukashenko noted, adding that the Russian leader had assured him no one had such thoughts.
Lukashenko rejected allegations that he was ready to sacrifice his country’s independence to remain in power. "I don’t care about power. I have been president for 25 years, so do you think I will now put an end to the independence of Belarus and destroy the Belarusian people’s centuries-long dream of independence?" the president said.