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A regular meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State was held in Minsk

Belarus and Russia will accelerate their integration despite the volatilities on the world financial market, head of the Belarusian government Sergei Sidorsky said at a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov. “We have recently managed to improve our economic relations. The work in the Union State is actively going on, the decisions taken by the heads of state at the latest session of the Supreme State Council in December 2007, are being implemented,” Sergei Sidorsky noted.

The Belarusian Premier praised the work of the task groups on the preparation for the session of the Union State Council of Ministers. “They managed to find a common ground on many issues of Belarus-Russia integration”, Sergei Sidorsky underlined.

Chairman of the Russian government Viktor Zubkov said that the agenda of the current session of the Union Council of Ministers includes a wide range of issues related to economic cooperation.

According to Viktor Zubkov, a number of issues concerning Belarus-Russia cooperation were touched upon at his meeting with the Belarusian President. The Russian Premier believes that “the level of activity in the Union State is high and is supported by regular meetings”.

Viktor Zubkov underlined the importance of the work conducted by Belarusian and Russian Vice-Premiers Andrei Kobyakov and Sergei Naryshkin. In January-March 2008, they held a series of meetings during which they studied and prepared “the whole range of issues related to integration cooperation for the Union Council of Ministers.

Belarus and Russia intend to identify a new area of economic cooperation, chairman of the government of the Russian Federation Viktor Zubkov said at a session of the Union State Council of Ministers.

Over the past four years the bilateral trade doubled to $26 billion in 2007. “Yet the potential has not been tapped to the full. Today we intend to consider the ways of exploiting this potential,” the Russian Premier said.

According to him, the agenda of the session includes the tariff and non-tariff regulation in the Union State, the course of implementation of the Union State programmes, the rules and principles of providing agriculture subsidies, military -political interaction, defence capacity of the countries.

The key issue in the economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia is the balance of agricultural production, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky said when opening the session of the Union State Council of Ministers.

A sharp increase in the prices for farm products, especially for grain, and monopolization of their sales by third countries require taking additional measures to ensure food security of Belarus and Russia, Sergei Sidorsky said. Under these circumstances coordinated agrarian policy and balanced deliveries of farm products is an important factor of production and sales in the market of the Union State, Belarusian PM said.

He also called as important last year’s documents on ensuring equal rights of citizens, social security, healthcare, taxes and income. The agreement on migration of citizens of the Union State will be ratified soon.

“Today it is important that we ensure that these agreements become effective as soon as possible. Then we will be able to move forward in the areas we have set out,” Sergei Sidorsky resumed.

Belarus and Russia are ready to address the problem of customs control on the external border, Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky noted opening a session of the Council of Ministers of the Union State.

The efficient work of the Union State creates favourable conditions for advancing the work on creating the single economic area and economic integration, the Belarusian Premier stressed. He noted that the present session of the Council of Ministers of the Union State “will secure the results of the joint actions in 2007 and give them necessary dynamics for 2008”.

According to the Premier, in 2007 Belarus and Russia worked well to settle the problems in trade and economic area. The sides signed the basic agreement on developing the trade and economic cooperation. The sides solved the problems regarding the international transportation and export of medications. Many provisions of the agreement have been already implemented; many problems have been solved, Sergei Sidorsky highlighted.

He also noted that last year Belarus and Russia’s trade hit $26 billion or almost RUB 650 billion. Moreover, Russian supplies to Belarus outstrip Belarusian exports to the Russian Federation. In January 2008 the trade of the two countries made up more than RUB 60 billion, or 76% up from the same period last year.

Sergei Sidorsky noted that the working groups of Belarus and Russia led by vice premiers of the two countries Andrei Kobyakov and Sergei Naryshkin play a significant role in settling many problems. It concerns transport-industrial cooperation, production cooperation, energy and agro-industrial complex. Our common task is to fill the joint programmes with innovation content so that they could bear well on the development of the economies of the two countries, the Belarusian Prime minister noted.

Belarus does not want to escalate tension in the relations with the USA or break off diplomatic relations, Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Sidorsky said after the session of the Union State Council of Ministers.

The Prime Minister of Belarus said that in conformance with the agreements with western partners, the Republic of Belarus has been taking consistent steps to improve the dialogue with the European Union and the USA with a view to normalizing relations with them.

Sergei Sidorsky noted that the steps taken by Belarus were aimed at building up full-fledged mutually beneficial bilateral relations with the EU and the USA. However, the United States imposed additional economic sanctions on Belneftekhim companies. Thus, it violated the agreed algorithm of mutual actions aimed at normalizing the relations. Having made this unfriendly move, the USA refused from its bilateral and multilateral obligations with regard to our country, Sergei Sidorsky said.

All the issues related to supplies of Russian gas to Belarus should be settled in line with the concluded contracts, Chairman of the Russian Government told reporters in Minsk on March 21.

“In December 2006 the relative contracts were signed. All the problems should be settled in line with the contract obligations,” he said.

“We set up all the conditions to develop the mutually beneficial cooperation in this area,” Viktor Zubkov highlighted. He also added that Gazprom fulfills its obligations strictly. It concerns gas supplies and the gas-transportation company which is being set up now, he said.

Russia views the move of the USA to impose sanctions on the Belneftekhim concern as politicized, chairman of the Russian government Viktor Zubkov said after the session of the Union State Council of Ministers.

According to Viktor Zubkov, such actions of the United States build up pressure on Belarus.

“In its own interests Washington has been increasing the pressure on Belarus instead of building up a dialogue and abolishing sanctions,” Viktor Zukov said. And all these have been happening while Belarus has been taking positive steps. An example here can be the recent achievements in the development of the market economy in Belarus, Viktor Zubkov stressed.

Such actions of the USA do not fit well in the international legal context of the interstate relations, the Russian PM said. “We urge Washington to revise its policy towards Belarus and its commercial entities,” he resumed.

Belarus and Russia have agreed the measures to ensure energy and food security, Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky noted summing up the results of a session of the Council of Ministers of the Union State.

He noted that the sides agreed the budgeted balance sheet of demands and proposals for important agricultural products in 2008-2012.

Sergei Sidorsky noted that the further steps on the way of developing the economic integration and setting up the single economic area of the two countries were discussed at the session. The sides summed up the trade and economic cooperation of the countries in 2007 and the results of the work of the working groups. The sides analyzed the course of implementation of the agreement between the governments of the two countries on development of the trade and economic cooperation. In 2007 the trade between Belarus and Russia hit $26 billion owing to the well coordinated work and the adopted measures to improve the conditions of the mutual trade.

The Belarusian Premier added: “We found a common algorithm of the cooperation in such important issues as the formation of the single educational process and setting up of the integrated market of communication services of the Union State”.

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