Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says that the country will maintain strategic cooperation with its close neighbor Russia.
"The essential Russian vector remains a key priority of Belarus. We must not lose the high level of the bilateral interaction," Lukashenko was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying in an annual state-of-the-nation address.
The two countries, which once agreed to forge a Union State after the collapse of the Soviet Union, witnessed a down-turn relationship in recent years due to disputes over oil and gas prices.
However, Belarus will not give up the integration with Russia, a "key partner" of the nation, said the President.
"The Union State brings political, economic and military benefits to Belarus and Russia, but this interaction must be equal, mutually beneficial and transparent," he was quoted as saying.