MINSK, August 11 (RIA Novosti) - Belarus will sign a post-Soviet regional security deal if it believes there is any benefit in signing it, President Lukashenko said on Tuesday.
Belarus refused to sign an agreement on the creation of a collective rapid reaction force under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) at a CSTO summit in Moscow on June 14 over trade disagreements with Russia. Uzbekistan also opted out.
The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Lukashenko said "it is our right" to sign or not to sign the documents, adding that "we will sign it if we can benefit from it."
He said Minsk's problem was a lack of access to Russian markets and overpriced energy resources from Kazakhstan and Russia.
He stressed, however, that his no-show at the CSTO summit did not mean that Minsk was against integration, including military cooperation.
In mid-July, Russia's veterinary watchdog slapped a temporary ban on meat supplies from two Belarusian meat plants over the alleged presence of harmful substances. Belarus retaliated by suspending its stretch of the Unecha-Ventspils oil pipeline, citing its unsatisfactory technical condition.
Russia and Belarus were earlier embroiled in a milk row after Moscow imposed a ban on Belarusian dairy supplies, which bring the country $1 billion in annual revenue, claiming Minsk had failed to comply with new regulations despite repeated warnings. In response, Belarus briefly imposed tough customs controls on border crossings with Russia.