WARM GLOW OF RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION SUMMIT.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 16

Post-factum statements also threw more light on the January 22 summit of the Russia-Belarus Union. As a Russian TV commentator later observed, "it was impossible not to notice the extremely warm rapport between presidents Yeltsin and Lukashenka." Regardless, Lukashenka publicly agreed on the occasion that Belarus is "the most Soviet" among the ex-USSR’s republics, "having preserved the best of what remains of the Soviet Union." Yeltsin and Lukashenka approved two concepts. The first, a joint foreign policy, was worked out by an interdepartmental commission under the two foreign ministries. The second, a joint defense policy and other defense documents, was signed last month by the Russian and Belarusan defense ministers in Minsk. (For details see Monitor, December 22)

Yeltsin praised the work of Russia’s Foreign Ministry in promoting close relations with Belarus. According to Kremlin officials, Moscow will continue its efforts in international organizations and with Western countries to obtain "normal" treatment of Belarus. Yeltsin stated that international "isolation" of Belarus is "unjust" and "discriminatory;" and spoke of "our obligation to work toward changing that." The summit approved the Union’s first-ever annual budget and resolved to work out "state symbols" of the Russia-Belarus Union as a potential subject of international law. The ongoing criminal trial of Russian ORT television journalists in Belarus was "no issue," according to representatives on both sides at the summit. (Russian TV, January 25; Russian agencies, January 23-25)

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