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Country News

18 March 2011

Belarus-Russia integration stalled by lack of common Constitution

MINSK, 18 March (BelTA) – The promotion of deeper integration in the Union State is stalled by the lack of a common Constitition, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko as he met with top executives of several Russian mass media on 18 March. “What we have achieved in the Customs Union is considerably behind what we have in the Union State of Belarus and Russia,” said Alexander Lukashenko. For instance, citizens in the Union State have equal rights while people in the Customs Union do not. “Unfortunately, people have increased expectations. Some view [the Union State] as a Soviet Union, a unitary state,” said Alexander Lukashenko. Speaking about the lack of the economic and financial results that were declared at the beginning of the union integration, the Belarus President said: “We haven’t held a referendum. We lack the foundation to build the Union State”. In his words, the treaty envisaged holding the referendum to adopt the Union State Constitution simultaneously in both countries. “We haven’t held the referendum and today there is no base, no legal foundation for us to build this country. The document stipulated a common currency, all the stuff, and the nations should have adopted these documents and we should have been moving in this direction. We haven’t done it,” said Alexander Lukashenko. “A house cannot be built starting with the roof,” he said. Besides, when, for instance, the creation of a common currency was discussed, Belarus was suggested using the Russian ruble with Moscow as the emission center. The option could not satisfy Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko continued, the Union State treaty stipulated the authority that supranational bodies were supposed to take over. “Russia’s leadership thought too much authority would be handed over,” said the President of Belarus. According to Alexander Lukashenko, Russia has quit several treaties and agreements, including one on equal business operation terms. During the crisis the Russian market sometimes invented artificial barriers and offered unfavorable terms. Yet he remarked that in some areas essential achievements have been made as far as union integration is concerned, including education, healthcare, equal rights of citizens and other things. Asked about how the Union State will develop from now on, Alexander Lukashenko said: “If it was up to me, I’d tell you exactly how we are going to build the Union State. It does not depend on me alone”. The Belarusian head of state also said that it is hardly probable that any radical decisions would be made in view of the pre-election period in Russia. “Although the matter [the development of Belarusian-Russian relations] looks topical and popular in Russia and it would be important for any politician, even a presidential candidate,” said Alexander Lukashenko. “Everything will depend on you [Russia]. There is one principle: we would like to be treated with respect and would like to be valued. We would like to be treated as a fellow country taking into account principles of statehood”.

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