Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anatol Hlaz has criticized Russian envoy to Minsk Mikhail Babich's recent public statements about the two countries integration, calling them "artificial and juggled figures."
On March 15. the Belarusian Foreign Ministry published on its website Hlaz's response to a question by RIA Novosti about Babich's recent interview given to the state-run Russian news agency.
RIA Novosti had published an interview with Babich the previous day, in which he rejected critical comments by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka made during his recent meeting with media regarding "complicated" relations between the two countries.
In the interview, Babich contradicted Lukashenka's statement that Moscow was preventing Belarusian goods from entering Russia's market, saying that many Belarusian-produced goods are exported to Russia. He added, however, that there shouldn't be a distinction between the Russian and Belarusian market since the existing Russia-Belarus Union should imply a unified single market.
Hlaz told RIA Novosti he "recommends" that Babich "spend more time to understand specifics of the country he works in, get acquainted with its history and have more respect [for it]."
"...Relations between our countries and peoples are much deeper and pervasive than those artificial and juggled figures the Russian diplomat regularly sticks to... I believe that in such a short time spent here in Belarus he simply failed to understand the difference between a [Russian] federal district and an independent state," Hlaz said.
The Russia-Belarus Union State established in the 1990s exists mainly on paper.
At a March 1 press conference, Lukashenka said that Russia and Belarus still needed to sort out a number of problems before talking about integration, adding that "the Russian leadership, especially the government, are not ready to go that way."