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2019.10.02 15:00

Belarus rejects Russia's integration plans – ‘absolutely unacceptable’, says Belarusian FM

LRT.lt2019.10.02 15:00

Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey said in an interview to Russian media that Moscow's plans for more integration with Belarus are "unacceptable". The media has previously reported that the two countries are moving towards an economic confederacy.

During discussions on integration plans, the Russian side put forward some “absolutely unacceptable” proposals, including the creation of several supra-national bodies, Uladzimir Makey said in an interview to RBC, according to the Poland-based Belarusian news agency Belsat.

“I think that if they are not tackled, it will be difficult to talk about the signing of the program [...] because we do not understand the logic of our partners,” said Makey.

Belarus and Russia are due to sign a new cooperation agreement by December 8, which, according to Russian media reports earlier in September, would go further than the current deal signed in 1999, and the two countries would move toward a de facto confederacy.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, inaugurated in July, said he would seek to reopen dialogue with Belarus, as Vilnius would like to see “a long border with Belarus” and not Russia.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius met his Belarusian counterpart in New York during the UN General Assembly in September, as Vilnius and Warsaw are also considering plans to help Belarus find alternative energy sources to Russian imports.

"We are interested in Belarus retaining its sovereignty, as far as possible," Linkevičius said at the time. "I believe that a dialogue between Belarus and the European Union should also help mitigate the situation that is now emerging."

However, the key issue standing in the way of improving bilateral relations between Minsk and Vilnius is the Astravyets nuclear plant, under construction 50 kilometers from Vilnius and 30 kilometers from the Lithuanian border.

Read more: As sirens blare across Vilnius, authorities test nuclear response readiness

Lithuania considers the nuclear plant to be unsafe, an allegation that Minsk rejects. The thaw in relations is also worrying Lithuanian conservative MPs, the largest opposition group in the parliament, who say that Lithuania’s stance on the nuclear issue, as well as the national interest, could be compromised.

Read more: Lithuania offers Belarus a way out of Russia's energy grip

Linas Linkevičius will visit Minsk together with EU Eastern Partnership countries' foreign ministers later this week.