Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said that his country's main goals for 2015 must be to diversify exports and reduce economic dependence on Russia.
Lukashenka made the comments during a December 30 meeting with newly appointed Prime Minister Andrey Kabyakau. The remarks also came just daysbefore the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia is set to transform into the Eurasian Economic Union (EEC).
"We cannot be dependent on only one or 1 1/2 markets," Lukashenka told Kabyakau. "Yes, Russia is our brother, our friend. But you see how they behave lately."
Lukashenka said that his most recent conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin was tough, but businesslike.
"It is not our first such discussion," he said. "This doesn't mean there is animosity, just that we are friends who can tell one another openly what concerns us."
Also on December 30, Lukashenka ordered Belarus's central bank to "strengthen the trust of people and enterprises in the national currency."
Lukashenka recently ordered the government to denominate trade with Russia in U.S. dollars because of concerns over the weak Russian ruble.