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The meeting took place on the sidelines of the CIS Heads of Government Council meeting.

Excerpts from the transcript:

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Mikhail Mishustin’s meeting with Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Roman Golovchenko

Roman Golovchenko: Esteemed Mr Mishustin and members of the Russian and Belarusian delegations,

I am sincerely happy about our current meeting that is taking place on the eve of both our joint work in the CIS format and the meeting of the presidents of Belarus and Russia. These highly focused meetings are indisputable evidence of our interest in developing bilateral cooperation and strengthening integration in the Union State.

I must admit that the events of the past few days testify to the increased and absolutely unfair pressure from the Western countries on Belarus. This pressure has a tendency towards unprecedented escalation. Contrary to international rules and standards and despite Belarus’s immediate openness to unbiased and complete investigation of this international incident, the landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk, by competent international organizations, the EU countries have imposed restrictions on Belavia flights to Europe and advised European carriers to abstain from flights over the territory of Belarus.


Meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Government

Mikhail Mishustin took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Victory Monument in Minsk with other delegation heads from countries taking part in the CIS Council of Heads of Government meeting

An outrageous incident took place on a Minsk-Barcelona flight yesterday. As our airplane was gaining altitude, we received information on the closing of the airspace over France in violation of all aviation regulations and rules. As a result, our plane had to return to Minsk.

We are particularly indignant at the hypocrisy when a detained citizen of Belarus is hailed as a hero by EU officials whereas he has two noteworthy pages in his biography – participation in hostilities as a member of the notorious Azov battalion in the east of Ukraine and the administrator of an extremist Telegram channel for handsome pay. That said, not a single mention was made of a truly heroic action taken just several days before by two Belarusian pilots who sacrificed their lives to divert a Yak-130 plane from residential buildings in the center of the city.

Obviously, these openly unfriendly measures will have economic consequences for our country. Under the circumstances, we certainly hope for support from our closest ally – the Russian Federation.

In this connection, we would like to propose discussing the possibility of resuming full-scale air travel between the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation all the way to the pre-pandemic level, increasing the number of flights on in-demand routes and opening new routes for the Belarusian air carrier, specifically to Sochi and Krasnodar. Before the pandemic, we had approximately 142 flights per week, while the current figure is just 13. Moreover, the epidemiological situation in our country and in Russia is improving. This will allow us to make up for the Western blockade, at least partially.

We maintain active ties between our healthcare systems and sanitary services, and we are vaccinating the people. As you are aware, we have launched the production of the Russian vaccine here, thanks to our very constructive and substantive efforts and cooperation with our Russian colleagues, and we are giving the people of Belarus jabs at a fast pace.

I would also just like to mention that according to the information we received over a period of the past few days, the EU has adopted a political decision on introducing sectoral economic sanctions against Belarus, obviously so as to wreck our economy and to create conditions for making another coup attempt.

The Western countries are putting the greatest pressure on the economic sectors that are making the largest contribution to our GDP, namely oil refining, fertilizer production and several other sectors. I would like to point out that they also want to sting Russia at the same time. It was only today that the EU foreign policy chief announced that the draft sanctions package would target the export of fertilizers and the transit of Russian gas via Belarus. The obvious goal is to prohibit the purchase of gas from Russian pipelines running across Belarus, specifically, the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline and the Gazprom Transgaz Belarus gas transportation system.

Mr Mishustin, this is the situation we are working in now. I am not exaggerating; I am only saying this to update you on the developments around our country.

Despite this, we are reacting to our Western partners ’policy pragmatically and constructively. Today we are delighted to welcome you to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to discuss the extensive agenda of our bilateral ties.

Tomorrow we will have an opportunity to talk about our collaboration within the Commonwealth of Independent States. It is a convenient and well developed platform for discussions, where we can coordinate our interests with those of our partners. As you are well aware, there are several such platforms and integration associations in the post-Soviet space. But the most important platform for us is the Union State.

Therefore, I propose talking today about progress in coordinating a package of Union State programs. Our negotiators have been working intensively. The other day they met to review the implementation of the instructions which you and I issued during our recent meeting in Kazan.

I believe that our delegation members can tell us a great deal about the work they have been conducting all this time.

Mr Mishustin, I would like to once again welcome you and all the members of the Russian delegation. Please, you have the floor.

Mikhail Mishustin: Mr Golovchenko, colleaigues and freends.

We are always happy to visit brotherly Belarus. We are delighted to see you again, colleagues. Mr Golovchenko, you and I have recently met on the sidelines of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council meeting in Kazan. We discussed matters on the bilateral agenda and noted a continued increase in mutual trade in the second quarter.

In the first quarter, according to reconciled statistics, our mutual trade increased by 25 percent compared to the first quarter of 2020, exceeding the pre-COVID level. I would just like to say thank you to you, members of the Government of Belarus, our colleagues, for the work you have done. It is very important. Trade volumes are going up, and we are naturally content about this. Overall, our trade and economic cooperation is growing steadily. Shipments under the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the shipment and transshipment of Belarusian oil products intended for export via Russia’s Baltic seaports are being made ahead of plan.

We also continue our joint coronavirus response efforts. We have helped launch the Sputnik V vaccine production in Belarus. We always share any new sources of information on how to protect oneself from the coronavirus. We are also exchanging test systems. We are aware of the interest in Russian vaccines that the Belarusian side has expressed. Anna Popova is present at our meeting today. We will certainly cover the entire bilateral coronavirus response agenda.

I would just like to add that we are gradually resuming air traffic and other types of communication that people are badly in need of. The process entirely depends on the pandemic situation. There is no political agenda here. We will certainly expand our mutual contacts using any means of transport at the first possible opportunity.

We must also stress that the Russian Federation is strongly opposed to unilateral sanctions and diktat when it comes to international affairs. We urge you not to politicize the situation with the emergency landing of a plane in Minsk. And we support our Belarusian partners in their commitment and willingness to conduct a transparent international investigation by the aviation authorities.

Tomorrow, on 28 May, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, will meet in Sochi. Today, I think we will once again review all the measures our governments are implementing following the instructions from our leaders. Mr Golovchenko, thank you again for the warm welcome of our delegation.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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