The meeting of Putin and Lukashenko: the prayer of agreement and outstanding issues

On the island, Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin lit candles at the icons of several monasteries, has reached “fundamental agreement” on the further integration of the two countries, but to remove all the problems this integration was decided in the winter — in December, the 20th anniversary of the Union Treaty of Belarus and Russia.

“An agreement in principle”, as the press service of the Belarusian head of state, was reached the next day, after prayers, on the island of Valaam, on 18 July Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin was on the forum of regions of Belarus and Russia in Saint-Petersburg.

At the same time, as stated on 18 July, the Minister of economic development of the Russian Federation Maxim Oreshkin, working group on Russian-Belarusian integration have agreed on most of the issues of the draft program of further integration, but “there are a number of unresolved issues that are fundamental”. If these issues, according to Oreshkin, “will not be solved, it may conserve the process of building the Union state, and in certain circumstances this process to even turn around”.

The essence of “fundamental issues” is not revealed, which paves the way for reasoning about the absorption by Russia of Belarus — Belarusian experts not just talking about the threat of incorporation by the proposed last year by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev deeper integration. According to political analyst Eugene Progerman, founder and Director of the Council on foreign relations “the Minsk dialogue,” the key contradictions of integration to solve for the six months is unlikely, will be a “point of progress”.

Eugene Progerman: “I don’t think that suddenly had reason to expect something really quite dramatic. Of course, whipping up all this will continue for various reasons, including because the negotiations are in an extremely closed regime and, by and large, give themselves additional grounds of these magnetoelastic, so to speak, moods. But overall, I think that’s the contradiction that part mentioned the same as it was for almost two decades.

The key contradiction lies in the fact that Russia, somewhat for natural reasons, does not want to go in full economic integration — one that involves creating a full economic Union with free movement of all four factors of production. This means – with the free pricing, including energy resources, when the cost of oil and gas — what the Belarusian side always says that Belarus would not differ fundamentally from the cost for the subjects in the Smolensk region.

Secondly, the contract on Union state in black and white — via numerous mechanisms — prescribed parity basis of this integration. That is not a single decision, including on key economic issues, should not be, if Belarus does not accept it and opposed. Here on this key contradiction, apparently, in these two aspects to everything. Russia is fully ready to go for it. For Belarus is unacceptable, something that does not match the parity and the ability to have full economic Union. This does not mean that there is some kind of a block for everything else — after all, twenty years somehow the whole thing evolved and some achievements there. But, on the other hand, these contradictions can’t afford to move to a qualitatively new stage. Although, judging by the statements, some new developments will, through the road map through sectoral things, but, rather, may be new agreements in the dotted areas. But again, the contradiction remains”.

Political analyst Pavel Usov, Director of the Center for political analysis and forecasting (Warsaw), in an interview with RFI calls talks on integration, “political and economic blackmail by Moscow.”

Pavel Usov: “I think that the issues known, but it is worth noting that neither Lukashenko nor Putin has not mentioned a word of what is being negotiated. But we know what can be discussed. Of course, the introduction of the single currency, the creation of common political institutions in the framework of the Union state is claimed today, Moscow does not want and then Minsk. And understandably so — this means the complete end of sovereignty of Belarus, and, of course, the end of unlimited power, Lukashenko. Of course, there are confrontations.

The fact that the final decision postponed for the winter, absolutely nothing shows, as the economic conditions in which today is Belarus, it’s a tax maneuver, some additional credits, incentives for delivery of oil and gas — all of this is tied today to advance the so-called deep integration. And Russia today examines the economic and political relations with Belarus in the framework of a single package, i.e., no integration or decision is necessary for Russia geopolitical issues — there are no concessions for Belarus, because all of the benefits, all loans more or less acceptable for Belarus conditions built into the framework here is that of the Union Treaty. And specifically today we are witnessing a geopolitical blackmail Belarus. And it is clear that Russia will not abandon its claims, will not abandon their intentions, worst of all, Belarus has no internal resources to compensate for the failure of the Union agreements”.

According to the analyst, is really critical for Minsk will not be the anniversary of the Union Treaty in December of 2019 and the beginning of the presidential campaign in Belarus in 2020. “Given the scarcity of own resources, Lukashenko again will require political and economic aid from the Kremlin for the next victory. For this assistance will later need to seriously pay,” — said Pavel Usov.

Meanwhile, on July 19, the day after the talks in Saint Petersburg with the minimum of public information, RIA Novosti published an interview with Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Grigory Karasin. A senior official said that Belarus hoped in vain to compensate for losses from the tax maneuver, which, according to forecasts, will amount to 10 billion dollars in the period of its implementation. “First of all, tax reform is a sovereign right of Russia, it is hardly correct to speak about any compensation,” said the Russian diplomat.
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