16 Dec 2022 13:55

Lukashenko affirms inviolability of Belarusian sovereignty, allied relations with Russia

MINSK. Dec 16 (Interfax) - The independence of Belarus is never discussed at negotiations with the Russian leadership, and the bilateral allied relations are inviolable, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said.

"I can see tensions rising. Especially after these large-scale negotiations [with Russian President Vladimir Putin due on December 19], everyone will be saying there is no authority in Belarus and Russians are walking around and governing this country. I would like to underline this specific feature: no one else but us is governing Belarus. These are our functions, mine included, by constitution. We are exercising these functions," the Belarusian presidential press service quoted Lukashenko as saying at a meeting on Belarusian-Russian cooperation in Minsk on Friday.

"Many people here start whispering whenever an attempt to reach agreement fails that Russia is setting unacceptable conditions related to our independence and sovereignty. I will be completely frank: despite all the difficulties, if the Russian Federation, its leadership want to build relations with the sovereign, independent state of Belarus, if Russia sees us as a sovereign, independent nation, but a very close, very reliable one, where everything Russian, from the language to Russian traditions, is cherished, we will be ready to foster relations. However, we should always remember that we are a sovereign, independent state," Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian-Russian integration programs do not affect the independence and sovereignty of either Belarus or Russia, Lukashenko said, adding that Belarus would stay true to its allied obligations.

"We will never be Russia's enemy. We will never take a dim view of Russia either. This is the country closest to us, the closest people. I believe that as long as you and I are in office, we will stick to this trend. Or else, things would have been as they are in Ukraine. [...] So, the sovereignty and independence are inviolable. Any other talk here or there [abroad] is a betrayal of the interests of the Belarusian people," Lukashenko said.

"Yes, we stay together with Russia as a sovereign, independent state. I am saying so with confidence, because I am aware of the stance of the Russian president. We never discuss this issue. We said so once and for all, and we agreed on our actions by signing those 28 programs. None of those programs encroach on our sovereignty and independence," he said.

A reported earlier, the presidents of Russia and Belarus will meet in Minsk on December 19 in an expanded format involving government members, as well as one-on-one. The presidents are planning to discuss the entire range of topical aspects of the Belarusian-Russian integration, primarily, import substitution projects, energy cooperation, and security. The presidents will make statements and answer journalists' questions after the negotiations.