MINSK, May 1. /TASS/. Belarusian Foreign Minister Mikhail Makei said sanctions imposed on Belarus by the European Union and other western powers only encourage his country’s integration with Russia.
"It's not about Russia helping the regime stay in power. Not at all. Our relationship with Russia is dictated by our geographical location and our history," Makei said in an interview with Euronews, published by the Foreign Ministry of Belarus. "Moreover, I should tell you unambiguously, that the sanctions the European Union and other Western countries are applying against Belarus only contribute to the further development and strengthening of the integration processes on a bilateral basis and not only on a bilateral basis, but also on a multilateral basis in the whole post-Soviet area".
According to the top diplomat of Belarus, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko discussed "further strengthening the Union State, further integration," as well as "the development of industrial cooperation, <…> equal gas prices, prices for hydrocarbons and so on and so forth."
"And of course, given that it is beneficial to Belarus, that it strengthens its sovereignty and independence, we intend to further develop the integration processes with our neighboring brother Russia," Makei said.
In his words, Russia is a powerful country both economically and militarily.
"It is a geopolitical player on the world stage and this explains the need to build normal, friendly relations with this power," he said.
The minister went on to say that a lot has been done within the framework of the Union State, including practically equal rights for Belarusian and Russian citizens.
"As to our relations with Russia, we are interested in strengthening the development of those relations, first of all from a trade and economic point of view. We want to ensure equal rights for economic entities of Belarus and Russia within the framework of the Union State," he said.