Lukashenko's foremost foreign policy objective has been the campaign for union with Russia. Although a bilateral treaty with Russia calling for military and political cooperation was signed in 1996, implementation has moved slowly. At the end of 1998, new agreements provided for a single currency, tax and customs unions, and other measures. A further agreement authorizing an economic alliance between the two countries was approved by both of their Parliaments and signed by Lukashenko and Russian president Boris Yeltsin at the end of 1999; the agreement had not been implemented as of early 2003. In addition, conditions in Belarus have worsened under the leadership of Lukashenko and the international community was turning its back on his country as a result. When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) met in Prague in November 2002, Lukashenko was denied a visa to travel to any European Union (EU) nation; this action reflects growing international ire over his crackdown on dissent in Belarus and his closing of the office of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OCSE), a human rights group. These conditions left the future status of Belarus in the international community in question.
With the 1999 agreement signed by Yeltsin and Lukashenko a long way from being implemented, hope for true Russia-Belarus union seemed dim.