No changes expecting Russian-Belarusian cooperation after the presidential election in Russia on March 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin believes. “I am convinced that no changes will take place at the Belarusian direction of foreign policy after March 2,” he stated at the annual press-conference in the Kremlin. As said by Putin, economy should become the basis of Russia and Belarus integration. He has reminded that Russia and Belarus’ transition to the single currency and switch to settlement of accounts in Russian rubles were set as objectives.
“Today, when Russian financial system is as stable as never before, I am sure Belarusians and Belarusian economy can only benefit from it. It is possible only in case our Belarusian partners want it. We are not going to impose anything on,” Putin said.
What concerns the social sector, customs, much has been done, but much remains to be done, the president noted.
Putin said it was necessary to unify customs tariff and create such conditions that the two countries wouldn’t concern about either Moscow or Minsk would make discordant decisions in the economy sphere.
Putin statement is evidence that the Russian authorities are going to continue press on Belarus, thinks Andrei Sannikov, international coordinator of Charter’97, one of the initiators of the civil campaign “European Belarus.”
“Putin’s plan concerning Belarus remains the same. If not a merger, then full control. What he says about single currency, meaning Russian ruble, is blow at Belarus as a state. Talks about any economic convergence and imposing united rights in the economy of the two countries, when Russia is in the closing stage of WTO accession, can be considered as propaganda smoke curtain,” Andrei Sannikov thinks.
The coordinator of Charter’97 noted through the efforts of Russia the dictatorship regime in Belarus is supported. This regime excepts serious economic reforms, not even speaking about democratisation of the political system.”
“Russia steers a course of keeping the Belarusian economy on a primitive stage, barring all possibilities to cooperate with developed countries, in first turn, with the EU members, in order to make easier servitude of Belarusian economy by Russian capital. Belarus has a way out: it is rapprochement with Europe, economic reforms, industry and agriculture modernisation. But this way out is blocked in accordance with supported by Russia political system,” Andrei Sannikov said.