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Eurasian Union not facing interfaith problems - view

November 16, 2011, 19:11 UTC+3

Speaker of the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament Boris Gryzlov believes the Eurasian Union

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MOSCOW, November 16 (Itar-Tass) — Speaker of the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament Boris Gryzlov believes the Eurasian Union, unlike the European Union, is not facing inter-faith problems. Gryzlov said so at a "round table" discussion that addressed integration processes in the post-Soviet space.

"Today, time has come to begin the implementation of the Eurasian Union project," the speaker underlined, "all the conditions have been created for it; we have the necessary instruments, and, most importantly, we have historical arguments for integration in the Eurasian space.|

"Speaking about the Commonwealth of Independent States: we've lived in one country for a long time, we have one language for communication. More than half of CIS population communicate in Russian.

"Already cooperation has been launched in the economy, in such fields as aircraft making and defense, which is an indication of mutual trust.

A number of inter-state organizations function in the CIS territory: the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Eurasian Economic Community, and the Union of Russia and Belarus. There are effective agreements on the Customs Union, and the Common Economic Space is to begin to if function from January 2012.

"There is an understanding that the economy can develop freely and effectively within the territory with a population of some 250 million. The European Union exists in approximately the same conditions. At present, the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan brings together 172 million people. If we embrace the CIS space, we'll have 230 to 250 million.

"We see interfaith problems in the European Union. I would remind that historically, representatives of different faiths have lived comfortably in our territory. In the first place, I mean the Orthodox Christians and the Muslims.

"I believe we could now begin the discussion of the declaration for the establishment of the Eurasian Union, and continue along this way or we might follow a constructive plan envisioning the setting up of supra national bodies," the speaker went on to say.

Gryzlov underlined that "the Eurasian Union will certainly be a union of sovereign states."

"Nobody implies, by using the term "big country," the establishment of a new one country, none of those present here assumes that we must move along this way," he added.

Earlier, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in his article, called "A New Integration Project for Eurasian: Making a Future Today" explained that the Eurasian Union is expected to become a "sort of a centre of further integration processes," i.e. it will be formed by gradual merging of the existing bodies, such as the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space.

"We're not going to fence ourselves off from anyone or confront anyone. The Eurasian Union will be built on universal integration principles as an integral part of Greater Europe, brought together by common values of freedom, democracy and market laws," he stated.

"That will bring our integration processes to a fundamentally new level, open up new prospects for economic development and create additional competitive advantages. Such consolidation of our efforts will not only help us integrate into the global economy but will also enable us to have a real say in making decisions that set the rules of the game and lay down the foundation for future relations.

"I am convinced that the creation of the Eurasian Union and effective integration are the only way that will help its members to occupy a decent place in the complicated world of the 21st century. It’s only together that our countries can become leaders of global growth, enhance our civilization and achieve the ultimate goals of success and prosperity," Putin said.

The State Duma speaker believes that in case of referenda in the post Soviet space, more than half of the voters would support integration while preserving the sovereignty of their states.

"I have a feeling that a majority of those living in the post Soviet space, after two decades since the breakup of the USSR, have somewhat re-thought their attitude to what they would have had, if we had unity of the peoples, and economic, political and spiritual unity.

"I believe if we held a referendum in many countries, more than a half would call for integration: naturally on the basis of sovereign states," Gryzlov said.

Deputy Secretary of the presidium of Untied Russia's General Council Yuri Shuvalov underlined in his report that "the task to establish the Eurasian Union is certainly not to be handled by one state."

"Russia has selected the vector along which integration processes will run. Offering Eurasia the Russian project, our country will certainly take into account the experience in supra national associations the world has gained.

"We have to think about the model of integration which would lean not only on the economic foundation, but also on social and spiritual factors. It is necessary to form one social space," Shuvalov said.

In his opinion, "it's very important to pay attention to the public dialogue between countries of the Eurasian space."

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