Belarusian President Emphasizes Independence In Integration With Russia And Stresses Importance Of Diversification Of Oil Supplies

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on April 24 delivered his annual address to the National Assembly, which consists of the Chamber of Representatives and the Council of the Republic, Belarusian Television reported. He said that despite the conflict with Moscow earlier this year over gas- and oil-price hikes, there is no alternative to his policy of integration with Russia. At the same time, Lukashenka stressed that maintaining Belarus's independence will remain a key priority in this integration policy. Referring to Belarus's relations with the European Union and the United States, Lukashenka underscored that they should be based on equality. "We are not standing [before the EU and the U.S.] with a begging hand," Lukashenka said. JM

President Lukashenka said in his annual address to the National Assembly on April 24 that, in order to minimize the likelihood of further such energy crises, the Belarusian government has looked for possibilities to develop oil fields and/or import oil from such countries as Venezuela, Iran, and Azerbaijan, Belarusian Television reported. "The economy cannot be dependent only on one supplier of hydrocarbons. We have good relations with Venezuela, Iran, Azerbaijan. It is important for us to extract oil in these countries," Lukashenka said, adding that prospects for such extraction are auspicious. The Belarusian president also assured lawmakers that Belarus will build a nuclear power plant to ensure its economic security. JM