The occurrence of a new integration association is expected at the map of the world – the Eurasian Economic Union. Attitude towards this process is ambiguous. In the light of the last political events the attempts if the post-Soviet states to claim their unanimity are perceived with concern by everyone including the peoples of these states. The opponents to such integration state that they are attempting to restore the totalitarian USSR where there is no place for state sovereignty, but total dependence from Russia. How real are such statements?
According to one of the main EAEU initiators, the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev this concept is based on the truth the sane close and clear to all the people of the member-states. As common history, mutual economic approach, close interconnection of cultures and closeness of people’s intentions give the people of these states the chance to develop a new type of multilateral interstate relations. The Eurasian Union, he notes, is possible only on the principles of voluntariness, equal rights, mutual benefits and consideration of pragmatic interests of each party. This initiative has become the baseline for a new historic process which is now called Eurasian integration. The union is possible only between equally independent states.
According to the Kazakhstani Leader, the speculations about the reincarnation of the USSR via the EAEU establishment are far from reality and have no grounds. Today there is simply no institutional basis for reintegration following the Soviet pattern. Everything has become the heritage of history completely and irrevocably. The people of the post-Soviet area have developed their own statehood. The current proprietary system, social structure and economic situation within own societies have left behind the Soviet past. And this is the point of unanimity of the governments of the three countries – Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus.
20 years ago the Eurasian initiative of Nazarbayev didn’t get the corresponding response from the CIS colleagues. But as further development demonstrated plenty of humanitarian, political and economic integration grounds were established later. These are the Eurasian Bank of Development, the Eurasian Business Council and the Eurasian Media-Forum, the Eurasian Association of Universities and many others. Eurasian integration has turned out to be not only beneficial for the people of the cooperating states – goods turnover between the countries has grown, customs barriers reduced, available turned out to be the establishment of joint ventures and cooperation in the number of spheres like education, employment, etc.. The majority of security issues within Central Asian region have been solved.
Economic successes may be noted – the total scope of the economies of only the most active member-states – Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia – comprise USD 2.2 trillion. The total scope of industrial goods release of the three states comprised almost 1.5 trillion. The prospect integration effect as the total GDP growth by 2030 may comprise about USD 900 billion.
A new noticeable step on the way of the Eurasian integration should be the oncoming signing of the treaty on the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union. It is expected to happen on May 29th in Astana.
The President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin considers that for previous years all the three members have done a huge piece of work “on the establishment of the most advanced within the post-Soviet space integration association”.
Thus, the already established Customs Union operates and gives real benefits. But he noted that today it is needed to make another step to deepen interaction, promote cooperation to a higher level. At the same time Putin acknowledges that there are some matters which has not been worked out completely at the expert level.
According to the Belarusian President the Eurasian Economic Union should develop on the ground of absence of withdrawals and restrictions within mutual trade, including with oil. Astana and Moscow do not share this view. Judging by last statements of the Belarusian leader, there shall be no obstacles within signing of the EAEU establishment treaty.
Along with it, as some experts note, once the date of the treaty signing has been already postponed that is why the intrigue remains whether it shall happen on May 29th. A number of principle issues between the members of Eurasian integration has not been solved. Belarus expressed its principle line: The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) should be launched without withdrawals. The most significant – withdrawals for oil products, export oil duty. Yet there are only verbal assurances of Russia that it is ready to reconsider its policy. Kazakhstan also has a number of unsolved matters: access to gas and oil pipelines as well as to railway infrastructure. There are pretty many disputable issues, and the prospects of their positive resolution are pretty illusive. Until now the full text of the EAEU treaty has not been published. And which is the most important – the list of withdrawals. And it could set the record straight.
Other experts suggest that public requirements of Belarus have been just a game. Duty-free oil and independent tariffs on oil products – it’s a two high price for Russia which is now in recession. The maximum, on which Belarus can count, is partial or complete refusal of export duties on oil products. Russia also has its card: as we are making a common market we should harmonize also export duties of all three countries, to increase oil production tax. Although in this case Russia would also suffer: fuel prices would grow rapidly.
Russia meets the needs of the partners. In the Eurasian Commission’s Council decisions are adopted only in consensus or with the majority of votes. There is no situation which was observed in the CU’s Commission when Russia had 57% of votes. Belarus and Kazakhstan have their powerful sides and sectors of economy, which are of Russia’s interests. Naturally it’s beneficial for Russia to develop the Eurasian project.