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President says Belarus will not abandon cooperation with Russia

The president stresses that relations with Russia are beneficial for Belarus

MINSK, February 8. /TASS/. Belarus will not drop cooperation with Russia, because it is a fraternal country, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis on Thursday.

"You should clearly understand that Russia is not just a friendly country to us, because a fraternal nation lives there. We cannot abandon (relations with Russia - TASS) in economic terms as well," Lukashenko stressed, adding that the two countries’ nations have a common origin.

"We were together in hard times, and we are economically dependent as well. Our economic complex is still closely linked to Russia: we buy a lot from them to produce goods here at plants," the president noted.

Lukashenko highlighted that Russia remains a fraternal country to Belarus even if there are discrepancies between the two countries. "We have some problems in building relations with the Russian state, but these are not relations between the Belarusian and Russian peoples, these are relations between the two authorities, <…> and this cannot be passed on to relations between our nations," he said.

The president stressed that relations with Russia are economically beneficial for Belarus. Minsk should address issues related to development of industries and providing Belarusians, migrants and a growing flow of tourists with all that is necessary.

"Results in the economy should be implemented in trade. Russia is our major market; Russia and the EU - here we’ve got parity," Lukashenko said.

Not creating problems to neighbors

Minsk favors the practice and policy of "not creating problems to neighbors," Lukashenko said.

"It is necessary to avoid side glances from neighbors. This is what we proceed from regarding Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. We never faulted you for joining the European Union. On the contrary, we are trying to benefit from it, and we are glad when you succeed," Lukashenko said.

"Like others, you should get rid of the feeling that we too much depend on fraternal Russia and are incapable of making any moves without looking back," the president noted.