Vladimir Putin believes that in creating a Union State of Russia and Belarus "it is necessary to take such a decision which would meet the interests of the peoples of the two countries." He spoke about it on Tuesday, opening the meeting with his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.
The meeting is going on in St Petersburg, on the board the Rossiya sea liner.
Vladimir Putin cited the data of the latest public polls in Belarus. According to him, fifty percent of the polled are for closer cooperation with Russia, while the other fifty percent stand for preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. In his turn, Alexander Lukashenko said that "economically we are already becoming one state." The Russian President also pointed out that though not much time had passed since his last meeting with the head of the Belarussian state, an obvious movement forward has taken place. "We have signed a plan for joint work on introducing a common currency; this is an important document," said Vladimir Putin. According to him, "it was a difficult work, we argued a lot but fortunately a mutually acceptable decision has been found." The Russian President also said that today other important problems have to be discussed, including the creation of a common economic space. In this connection Vladimir Putin reminded the audience that a decision had been taken on the use in Belarus of the Russian internal market prices for energy sources, in particular, gas. Many other questions will have to be decided, especially those connected with taxes, including the value added tax (VAT), and the further unification of customs tariffs, said he.
For his part Alexander Lukashenko thanked the Russian President for persistence with which he puts into practice the provisions of the Treaty on creating a common state.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969