Putin congratulates Lukashenko on Russia-Belarus Unity Day

MOSCOW, April 2 (Itar-Tass) -- President Vladimir Putin on Monday sent congratulations to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on the occasion of Russian and Belarusian People Unity Day.

"This day symbolises the historical kinship of our people, their common desire to live a democratic and prosperous society," Putin said.

"I am convinced that the enhancement of mutually advantageous and pragmatic cooperation in all fields, primarily in the economic one, and can make a significant contribution to the development of integration processes and effectively improve the well-being of our citizens," Putin said.

Unity Day marks the 11th anniversary of signing of the treaty on community of the two countries, which laid the foundation for the creation of the Union State. The Supreme Council of the Community and the presidents of the countries declared April 2 as Russian and Belarusian People Unity Day.

Ceremonial meetings with politicians and statesmen, intellectuals will be held, concerts by Belarusian and Russian performers will be given in Moscow and Minsk, a source in the Standing Committee of the Belarus-Russia Union State told Itar-Tass.

A protocol on cultural cooperation between the Belarusian Culture Ministry and the Moscow Culture Committee in 2008-2009 is to be signed in Minsk on this day. The exhibition "Moscow and Muscovites" will open at the Belarussian National Arts Museum.

Lukashenko congratulated "Belarusian compatriots and Russian brothers" on Unity Day.

According to the Belarusian president, future joint steps require the leadership of the two countries to take "accurate, coordinated actions" and conduct "a persistent search for optimal solutions", taking into account national interests based on equality and preservation of the two countries."

"We should not slow down the pace of forming a common economic space, customs union, free labour market, common information, educational and cultural environment," Lukashenko said.

"Only thought-out, coordinated and mutually beneficial decisions will open up new real opportunities for an uplift in the national economies, revival of political strength and creation of a worthy future for our posterity."