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MOSCOW, October 4 (Itar-Tass) — A balanced system of partnerships between the Eurasian Union and the EU “can create real conditions for changing the geopolitical and geo-economic configuration of the whole continent and would undoubtedly have a positive global effect,” Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wrote in his article on a new integration project for Eurasia, published by the Izvestiya newspaper on Tuesday.
“It is obvious today that the global crisis that broke out in 2008 was of a structural nature,” the prime minister noted. “We also now can observe its acute relapses. The root of the problem is the accumulated global imbalances. At the same time the process of developing post-crisis models of global development is going with difficulty. For example – the actually stalled Doha round of negotiations, there are objective difficulties also within the WTO, the very principle of free trade and open markets is experiencing a serious crisis.”
“In our view, the development of common approaches, as they say, ‘from the bottom,’ can be a solution. Initially - within the existing regional structures - the EU, NAFTA, APEC, ASEAN and others, and then - through a dialogue between them,” Putin noted. “It is from such integration ‘building blocks’ that a more sustainable global economy may be formed.”
“For example, the two major unions of our continent - the European Union and the emerging Eurasian Union – building their interaction on the rules of free trade and compatibility of the management systems, objectively, including through the relations with third countries and regional bodies are capable of extending these principles to the whole space - from the Atlantic to the Pacific,” believes the Russian government head. “To a space that will be harmonious in its economic nature, but polycentric in terms of specific mechanisms and management decisions.”
“Then it would be logical to begin a constructive dialogue on the principles of interaction with countries of the Asia-Pacific, North American and other regions,” he believes.
“In this regard I would say that the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan has already started negotiations on creating a free trade zone with the European Free Trade Association,” Putin said.
“The issues of trade liberalisation, removing barriers to economic cooperation will be high on the agenda of the APEC forum to be held Vladivostok next year. Moreover, Russia will be promoting a common, coordinated position of the Customs Union and Common Economic Space,” he explained.
“Thus, our integration project is entering a qualitatively new level, it opens up broad prospects for economic development, creates additional competitive advantages,” the Russian government head noted.
“This pooling of efforts will allow us not only to integrate into the global economy and trade system, but also to really participate in the decision-making process that defines the rules of the game and determines the contours of the future,” he said.
“I am convinced that the creation of the Eurasian Union, effective integration is the way that will allow its participants to take a rightful place in the complex world of the 21st century. Only by working together our countries will be able to join the leaders of global growth and civilisation progress, to attain success and prosperity,” according to the Russian prime minister.
He also noted in his article on the Eurasian Union creation that “there is no talk about rebuilding the USSR in one way or another.” “It would be naive to try to restore or copy something that belongs to the past, but a close integration based on new values and economic and political foundation is a demand of the present time.”
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan already have formed an economic alliance that has removed customs barriers in mutual trade during the past summer. They are to introduce unified market rules and regulations starting January 1. Putin said that Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are expected to join the grouping, The Associated Press reported.
“We aren’t going to stop at that and are putting forward an ambitious task of reaching a new, higher level of integration with the Eurasian Union,” Putin said. “Along with other key players and regional structures, such as the European Union, the United States, China and the Asia Pacific Economic Community, it should ensure stability of global development.”
Russia has long called for stronger cooperation between ex-Soviet nations, but earlier attempts at forging closer ties between them have failed due to sharp economic differences. Many former Soviet nations have looked westward and remain suspicious of Moscow's intentions, setting a rocky path to Putin’s “Eurasian Union,” according to AP.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, considered more Russia-friendly than his pro-Western predecessor, has continued to focus on closer relations with the European Union, shattering Moscow's hopes for luring Ukraine into its orbit. Yanukovich complained last month that the Kremlin was trying to coerce Ukraine into joining the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and said that he wouldn't yield to pressure.
Putin’s plan also comes in potential competition with the Eastern Partnership, an initiative launched two years ago by Poland and Sweden. It aims to deepen European Union integration with six ex-Soviet nations: Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan.