MOSCOW, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Russia and Belarus have advanced significantly in the last 20 years along the path of mutually beneficial cooperation and integration, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.
In a congratulatory letter to President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on the occasion of the Day of Unity of the Peoples of Russia and Belarus, Putin recalled large-scale joint projects implemented in trade, economy, humanitarian, scientific, technical and other areas.
"The coordination of our efforts in foreign policy and defense is strengthening the international standing of Russia and Belarus and the security of our citizens," Putin said.
The Day of Unity of the Peoples of Belarus and Russia is annually marked on April 2. It was on the date in 1996 that then presidents of Russia and Belarus, Boris Yeltsin and Alexander Lukashenko signed the Treaty on the Formation of the Commonwealth of Russia and Belarus in Moscow.
The Treaty on the Creation of the Union State of Russia and Belarus was signed in 1999. The two countries will mark its 20th anniversary on Dec. 8 this year.
"The Union State Treaty unites the closest partners and good neighbors on the post-Soviet space. This is the reason for vitality and huge potential of Belarus-Russia integration," Lukashenko said in a message of congratulations to Putin on the same day.
He said that trust and mutual understanding will continue to shape the construction of the Union State and help bring bilateral relations up to a new level.