From January 01, 2005 the Russian rouble will be the only currency within Russia and Belarus. This was announced at a press conference in Minsk after a summit meeting between Russian and Belarus Presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko.
According to Mr Putin there will be a difficult preparation period before the rouble can actually become the single currency. He added that 'the next steps would be agreed upon during the spring.'
Mr Lukashenko said that the introduction of the rouble as the currency of Belarus must be coordinated in line with the agreements reached on the creation of the union. Mr Lukashenko added that 'we must create a united bank of issue and solve various other problems.'
The Belarus leader also believes that financial integration between the two countries will make things a lot easier for the two governments and believes that cooperation between the two governments and the two central banks is currently far too sluggish. 'At the meeting today we made it clear to our governments and banks that they must put our decisions into practice and start to work together,' the Belarus president emphasised.