Union that will Benefit All
Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan are creating a new economic and political center of power in Eurasia
Alexander Lukashenko, Dmitry Medvedev and Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the Declaration on the Eurasian Economic Integration. The document states that integration chimes in with national interests of the three countries. The document declares that integration will help improve the well-being and the quality of life of people and promote sustainable socioeconomic growth. The Single Economic Space will become operational in January 2012 to secure the free movement of goods, services, capital and labor.
It is noteworthy that Belarus and Kazakhstan are interested in the Single Economic Space mostly for economic reasons, while Russia pursues also some political ends. Russia wants to reinforce its image as the major integration force on the post-soviet space.
Plenty of ideas emerged on the post-soviet space since the USSR collapsed. However, everyone was saying that nothing will happen until Russia moves from statements and declarations about integration to practical action, Alexander Lukashenko said emphasizing Russia’s role in the establishment of the SES.
After the Soviet Union collapsed, the republics of the former world power gained independence and went their own ways. However, they soon realized that the disruption of links between them was more painful than they had expected. Their economies were once part of a single and integral system. Therefore, the disintegration brought about numerous political and economic issues. Against this backdrop, various integration projects started to emerge on the post-soviet space. The Customs Union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan has been making much progress recently. At the Moscow meeting on 18 November, the presidents of the Troika passed a truly historic decision and declared the transition to the next stage of integration – the establishment of the Single Economic Space (SES) and in the future the Eurasian Economic Union. This event was symbolic as it took place in the runup to the 20th anniversary of Belavezha Accords that formalized the collapse of the USSR.
The heads of state assured that integration has nothing to do with the reincarnation of the Soviet Union that was underpinned by the command and administration system, government ownership of means of production and communist ideology.
These are some odd phantom fears of our opposition or enemies who do not want to see integration on this territory, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev underlined.
Dmitry Medvedev ruled out domination of any country over the other ones in the Single Economic Space and the Eurasian Union.
As viewed today, this will be a union of sovereign states with supranational bodies, Alexander Lukashenko said.
In line with the Declaration, the Single Economic Space is committed to observing the international law, which includes respect for sovereignty and equality of the states, basic rights and freedoms of people, rule of law and market economy.
By 2015, the parties intend to codify international treaties that make up the legal framework of the Customs Union and the SES, and will create the basis for the Eurasian Union. This includes balanced macroeconomic and fiscal policy, competition rules, structural reforms of the market of capital, labor, goods and services, construction of Eurasian networks in power engineering, transport and telecommunications.
We will come to the point when we will need to define our economic community. I think this will be the Eurasian Union. We should not be afraid of that, as we are already surrounded by numerous unions, the Belarusian President believes.
Later, during a working dinner, the presidents said that this union might become operational by the end of 2013.
The countries will be guided by norms and rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The importance of accession to the WTO was reaffirmed by all the three states. This is crucial because Russia has already cleared all barriers on its way to the WTO. Kazakhstan is lagging behind, but it has made more progress than Belarus.
Thus, it is clear that Russia, having joined the World Trade Organization, will open the door for goods from WTO countries to the markets of Belarus and Kazakhstan. The two countries, in turn, will be unable to enjoy similar export benefits. Therefore, it is important that Russia should help its SES partners to join the WTO as soon as possible.