Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko © Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed Thursday that the republic will face a catastrophe unless the demographic problem is solved and the population increases to 20 million people.

“The biggest problem in the country is a demographic one. Therefore, everything is being done for children: the prolongation of the maternity capital, the apartments. It will be a catastrophe if our population doesn’t grow. They say that Belarus is small, that we don’t have population. What is 9.5 or 10 million [people]? It’s nothing. The first stage, we need 15 million and then make it 20. Then we will be like Europe in terms of population density,” he said Thursday.

He underscored that the government has no plans to cut allowances for children.

“I don’t think we will touch the allowances, connected to children. There has been no talk of cutting or removing the maternity leave, don’t worry,” he noted.