They are neighbours and old friends but the presidents of Belarus and Ukraine do not seem to agree on having closer economic ties in the future.
During his two day visit to Kiev, Aleksandr Lukashenka argued that Ukraine should join the Customs Union that also includes Russia and Kazakhstan.
But Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich made clear his main objective for now is closer European integration.
“What exactly does that mean for us? he asked. It means we want to achieve European standards in every aspect of living.”
Lukashenka simply said he wanted Ukraine to be part of the Customs Union: “A lot is being said and written but it’s really very simple,” he added.
Belarus is one of Ukraine’s main trade and economic partners with a multi-billion euro annual turnover in goods and services.
But this relationship could come under strain according to our correspondent in Kiev, Evgeniya Rudenko:
“Viktor Yanukovych claims that Ukraine has chosen the path of closer integration with Europe, but the problem remains in terms of how to combine this association with the EU while maintaining close economic ties and co-operation with the Customs Union.”