Lukashenko: Belarus' policy towards Armenia will never change
Belarus' policy towards Armenia will never change. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement as he met with Armenia Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “I follow closely the situation in Armenia from the point of view of the attitude towards Belarus. I know that Armenians have always treated Belarus well.”
He stressed that Belarus is interested in building up relations with Armenia the more so since the two nations have a similar history. Belarus-Armenia trade is small for now (about $50 million in 2018), but there was no trade at all at some point in the past, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
He went on saying: “Today's trade growth rate of 140% is a very good rate. I have to assure you that it will be like that in the future, too. We will support your business in Belarus if you are interested in ours. We are going to come to Armenia, set up joint ventures. I am saying it because I don't want you to think our policy towards Armenia has changed. Even if you refuse to cooperate with us, we will still insist on maintaining close and friendly relations.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko assured Nikol Pashinyan that Belarus is always ready to lend a shoulder to Armenia and will never befriend someone at Armenia's expense. “It turns out you are a very good friend just like the president of Azerbaijan has been since distant past. What am I to do? I like Armenia a lot just like I like Azerbaijan. We are ready to work in Armenia's interests.” Aleksandr Lukashenko added he may have raised a topic one should not have raised due to reasons of diplomacy, however, he does not want any lack of clarity to linger in relations between the leadership of Belarus and Armenia. “This is not a simple conversation. Rest assured we will always treat you like family, like brothers,” the Belarus president pointed out.
In turn, Nikol Pashinyan noted he was glad the two countries can work together and discuss the most complicated issues in order to arrive at an agreement. “We have sufficient wisdom, bravery, and will to resolve all the issues in a way to develop friendship and brotherhood between our nations and countries,” the prime minister of Armenia said. Nikol Pashinyan also informed Aleksandr Lukashenko about preparations for the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, which is due to take place in Yerevan on 1 October. The agenda was mentioned briefly.
Nikol Pashinyan remarked that a free trade agreement and a framework agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and Singapore are supposed to be signed during the summit.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Armenia's leadership has done a lot of work to develop the Eurasian Economic Union and expand its interaction with third countries. “Frankly speaking, Singapore should be grateful to Armenia for such an agreement. But this agreement will benefit all countries. Otherwise, nobody would bother considering it,” the president said. “When I was told we are supposed to work on signing a free trade agreement with Singapore, I said we should follow the lead of Nikol Pashinyan, of Armenia because our economies are similar and I don't think Armenia will harm its own interests. This is why we kept in mind your efforts while analyzing the situation ourselves.”
In 2018 Belarus-Armenia trade totaled $50.1 million. In January-July 2019 it increased by more than 40% in comparison with the same period of last year to reach $37.2 million. Belarus' staple exports to Armenia are milk and cream, tractors and truck tractors, medications, tires, furniture, paper and pasteboard, butter. Imports from Armenia include distilled spirits, tomatoes, oil products, and furniture.
In the photo: Aleksandr Lukashenko and Nikol Pashinyan.