Relations with Russia remain top priority for Belarus, president says

Belapan news agency
1 Apr 05

MINSK

"Belarus adheres to a multivector principle in its foreign policy. Our
foreign policy and diplomacy are there where our interests are
present," official sources quoted [Belarusian President] Alyaksandr
Lukashenka as saying on 1 April during a visit to the 28th weapons and
ammunition storage base in Baranavichy [Brest Region].

"One cannot choose neighbours, and good relations with them should be
maintained," the president said. He said that growth is currently
being observed in trade with western countries. In particular, a
positive balance has been reported in trade with them. "But we have
our own interests and we do not tolerate being lorded over, when they
start pulling and pushing us and sometimes even insulting," the head
of state said.

The president said that "fraternal Russia" is a priority for Belarus's
foreign policy. "Half of our economy depends on the east, on Russia
today. Moscow and St Petersburg are not aliens for us. Russia is not
an alien for us. This is our country, our Russia. I am saying this
openly and frankly, though somebody will not like this," Alyaksandr
Lukashenka said. "Even if I were thinking differently, I would have
conducted this policy anyway because it originates from the people and
not only from myself."

The president also stressed that Belarus "was expecting certain
reaction" from other members of the Collective Security Treaty
Organization [CSTO, which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia] to developments in Kyrgyzstan.
Lukashenka believes that it is a sad fact that "one of the CSTO member
states is being exposed to such an attack and destruction". "When our
colleague is actually being ousted and we are pretending that nothing
is happening, you understand that each country in this organization is
also playing a certain role. We were expecting a certain reaction from
other states. As you saw, there was no reaction at all, to say the
least," the president added.

[Belapan reported at 1426 gmt that Belarus is ready to discuss
Russia's proposals on completing the construction of the Yamal-Europe
gas pipeline and joint processing of oil for export to world
markets. The news agency quoted Lukashenka as saying that these issues
will be discussed during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir
Putin on 4 April.]