Envoy back on Belarus-Russia integration issue

During Wednesday’s online conference, Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Uladzimir Syamashka raised the subject of the two countries’ deepening integration.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing election campaign in Belarus, the issue seemed to have been put off the agenda.

“I must remind that the presidents of our countries agreed at the end of 2018 in the Kremlin that the Union State of Russia and Belarus would definitely be in place. And it should develop, not only ‘be’. Therefore, they took a firm decision that the treaty signed on 8 December, 1999 is a normal agreement and we must fully implement it,” the envoy said.

According to him, the Union State is facing strong challenges, i.e. introducing a single tax law, a single customs code, a single currency with a single emission centre. In spite of differences, the two countries should act as one, Syamashka believes.

  • Negotiations on deeper integration of Belarus and Russia began in late 2018. On September 6, 2019, Prime Ministers of the two countries Syarhei Rumas and Dmitry Medvedev agreed on a draft action program to deepen integration and a list of road maps. From September till December the governments took time to agree on concrete road maps to transfer them for signing to heads of the states. It was expected that the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State would be held on December 8, where Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin would sign the new integration program, which includes 31 road maps. However, the signing of integration documents has never taken place.
  • The full list of all road maps has never been published, as well as details of the integration documents. In 2019, the Belarusian authorities stressed in every possible way that the integration talks do not concern the creation of supranational bodies and political integration. Only in December, after the disruption of the Supreme State Council of the Union State in Moscow, Lukashenka told about the 31st map. “There is the so-called 31st road map — a plan to build supranational bodies. Parliament, perhaps there will be a President, etc.” said Lukashenka in an interview with Echo of Moscow.
  • Lukashenka had to talk about the 31st road map after Medvedev mentioned it. On December 23, Russian Prime Minister said that the 31st map touched upon the issues of supranational bodies, single currency and a single emission center. In the interview with Echo of Moscow Lukashenka stressed that he and Putin had agreed not to talk about this issue yet, while the rest of the maps were not linked to the 31st map.

Number of Belarus-Russia union supporters falls by third – poll

Amid the reports about deepening the integration of Belarus and Russia, a numberof peaceful rallies were held in Minsk and regions in December. Although Alyaksandr Lukashenka repeatedly expressed his readiness to uphold the independence of the country, the rubber-stamping Belarusian courts slapped fines on about 60 persons who took up to the streets voicing their protest in view of a growing threat to the sovereignty of Belarus. Officially, the protesters were tried for ‘participating in unauthorised mass events’ (Art. 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). The total sum of the penalties amounted to 55,000 Belarusian rubles (appr. $27,000).

After the March’s start of the coronavirus epidemic, the leaders of Belarus and Russia have not publicly raised the integration issues. To date, the road maps remain unsigned.

In April, Uladzimir Syamashka said that there were prerequisites for a new consideration of previously prepared documents on the deepening of Belarusian-Russian integration.

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