Belarus cannot allow the introduction of a ban on transit of food supplies from the West to Russia, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Wednesday.
“We cannot ban transit of goods to other countries through the Belarusian territory. This is a violation of all the norms of the international law,” Lukashenko told a meeting on measures taken to lift restrictions on imports of Belarusian goods to Russia and transit of sanctioned goods.
“If Russia does not want any goods to go through it by transit to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, Mongolia, Turkey, then it should ban this transit,” Lukashenko said.
Lukashenko has dismissed Russia’s charges Minsk is being dishonest in food supplies to the Russian market.
“We have strongly banned any cheating with Western goods with the aim to re-export them to the Russian market under new labels. There has been no such thing and it won’t ever happen. But we have processed the products that we have deemed appropriate in Belarussian territory all the way and we shall continue doing so,” he told a conference on measures for lifting the bans from the export of Belarussian products to Russia and the transiting of goods under sanctions.
Lukashenko said that earlier, in a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he had guaranteed Belarus would stand by its obligations to safeguard the external border of the Customs Union, for instance to prevent goods from neighbouring countries from entering Russian territory. “At the same time I also declared that those Belarussian manufacturers which have concluded contracts with Western providers or may conclude such contracts in the future will continue to observe these liabilities,” Lukashenko added.
Belarus has not joined Russia’s food counter-embargo and continued to do business as usual.
“For instance we used to import meat, milk, vegetables, fruit and fish into Belarus and process them inside the country to subsequently market the products in Eurasian space, including the Customs Union’s territory, and we shall keep working in this way further on,” Lukashenko said, adding that the Russian leadership had agreed with that.
Lukashenko explained that Belarus was obliged to employ its customs, border and other services to rule out direct supplies of prohibited goods to Russia.
“Preventing transit through Belarus to Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China was not on the agenda,” he mentioned.
He recalled that since the moment Russia had imposed its counter-embargo the supplies of certain Belarussian products had grown by a tiny 2-5%, if at all. Belarus has not yet fully used the quotas that had been agreed with Russia at the beginning of the year.
“We are unable to provide more meat and milk that we had imported from the West for processing even if we wished to do so, because there are no idle capacities,” Lukashenko said.
The Belarussian president criticized his government for being too slow to address the current problems related to Belarussian food supplies to Russia. A week ago the Cabinet of Ministers was given specific instructions to promptly devise effective measures to settle the outstanding issues.
“The inefficiency and passiveness of our ministries, industrial managers, governors and the government is just amazing. What is it they have been waiting for during three months? Why didn’t they invite our partners at once to look into the gist of the problems? Why haven’t they lifted the issues without delays?” Lukashenko asked.
Russia has introduced new regulatory measures to tighten transit rules aimed at stopping trucks said destined for Kazakhstan but unloading instead in Russia.
Regulations effective since November 30 are aimed at closing illegal transit routes which authorities say are chanelling frozen meat from Europe into Russia — products Moscow has banned in response to Western sanctions over Ukraine. Starting this date, consignments must be examined at Russian checkpoints before being allowed through.
First published by TASS.
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