Yesterday, in Moscow, after their one-day meeting, Presidents Putin and Lukashenko confirmed again their gravitating toward bringing Russia and Belarus in a single union state. Moreover, the President of Russia talked about new timetables of that.
Vladimir Putin considers very important what questions the citizens of the two countries will be asked during the referendum suggested to take place in May 2003. The fundamental principle to be observed remains the equality of all citizens and Russian and Belorussian regions. The important issue is the creation of common bodies of power in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
Vladimir Putin paid a special attention to the question of the Constitution. That of Belarus, he says, is the supreme law of a democratic state and is, undoubtedly, exemplary. However, Belarus is a unitary state and the Russian-Belorussian union state may be only a federation. Mr. Putin says that there is another possible model of unification, that used in the European Union, with one parliament yet different laws.
Alexander Lukashenko has so far offered no comment, yet both leaders say there is nothing that can bring in a discord between them.
President Putin suggested also that Russian rouble be made a common currency of the two states one year earlier than this was initially planned, that is beginning January 1, 2004 instead of 2005.
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