Author`s name Margarita Kicherova

What is Behind the Backs of Russia and Belarus Presidents?

To all appearances, the problems in bilateral relations can be settled with political methods only
An informal meeting of the presidents of Russia and Belarus took place in the city of Sochi yesterday. There are many problems between the two countries that require particular discussion. The key topic for the discussion is creation of a union state of Russia and Belarus. As has been reported, two days before the Sochi negotiations Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov canceled an gas export agreement that sold gas to Belarus at domestic - meaning low - prices. The decision to cancel the agreement was a response a court decision to arrest 10 per cent of shares of the Mozyr oil refinery on September 3. The shares were held by the Slavneft oil company.

To all appearances, the problems in bilateral relations can be settled with political methods only. Otherwise, all problems and misunderstanding would only worsen. In any case, it is rather difficult to predict the consequences of yesterday's meeting. Moscow seems to be exasperated with Lukashenko's inconsistency. Russian President Vladimir Putin was rather diplomatic with his statements: "Today, under informal conditions we have an opportunity to touch upon political and economic problems."

But Vladimir Putin also mentioned that the presidents gathered to "discuss everything, including the positive aspect of the Russia-Belarus relations."
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in his turn was more categorical. He said that "there are some negative processes" going on behind the presidents' backs, and " the goal unification is attacked." According to Lukashenko, if both presidents stand-up to such attacks and "cut short the insinuations going from all directions, this will be good for the people of Russia and Belarus."
The Kremlin immediately commented upon the statement. Russia's news agency Interfax cited some governmental official as saying that "there is nothing bad going on behind the back of the Russian president."

According to the official, "Russia has a clear program adopted several years ago and aimed at unification with Belarus. The Russian leadership is consistently working on realization of the program. At the very least, we should successfully conclude a program concerning the joint currency of both countries." So, if we follow the logic of this statement we may guess that it is the government of Belarus that is guilty of all problems that arise.

Who is in the wrong? In fact, the situation is very simple: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko will not let Russian companies purchase Belarus' most attractive enterprises. At the same time, Russian companies have no intention to follow Lukashenko's rules because they are not sure that these rules will remain stable. It seems that the Kremlin in not sure of this either. 

Against the background of all these troubles, it has been completely forgotten for what purposes creation of a union state. The very idea of a union state appeared with a view to benefit the peoples of both countries, not for the political hopes of presidents Lukashenko and Yeltsin (now Vladimir Putin). But if not, what was the purpose of the union state creation then? What is the purpose of all these scandals and misunderstanding that require settlement in informal situations?

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