MOSCOW, December 19 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko has been appointed chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission’s Board.
Following the appointment, Khristenko will quit his current job soon to become the first chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission’s Board, a supranational body created by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan for their integration. The Kremlin compares it with the European Commission.
Presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko told Itar-Tass earlier that “all members of the Board have permanent jobs and are appointed for four years with a possible extension”.
When asked whether Khristenko will resign as industry and trade minister, Prikhodko said, “Absolutely correct.”
He believes that Khristenko will start working in his new capacity right away but admitted that it will take time to complete all formalities regarding ratification of the documents.
The aide said that Khristenko would surely stop being a minister by March 2012 when a presidential election is scheduled to take place in Russia and the newly elected president will start forming a new government.
The commission will work in Moscow for the time being despite Kazakhstan’s insistence to host “the Eurasian headquarters”.
“This may happen in the future,” Prikhodko said, but added that Moscow has better infrastructure for this purpose right now.
“The commission will employ up to 800 people,” he said. “Russia will delegate Tatyana Valovaya, director of the governmental Department of International Cooperation, and Andrei Slepnev, Deputy Minister of Economic Development [to become Commissioner for Trade], who will also have to quite their current jobs,” the aide said.
“By analogy with the European Commission, they will be Eurasian commissioners,” he added.
Prikhodko stressed the importance of the Russian-Belarusian-Kazakhstani commission. “This is the first time a supranational commission has been set up,” he said.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the Agreement on the Eurasian Economic Commission on November 18, 2011. The commission will start working on January 1, 2012.
The document says that the commission will coordinate integration processes within the Customs Union and the Unified Economic Space.
“The Commission, for the time in post-Soviet history, is designed to become a supranational body, neutral with regard to the member states, that will gradually take over national powers,” a source in the Kremlin said.
The Commission’s highest body will be the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council that will convene at the level of heads of state and government. The commission will use its decisions as guidance and can be authorised to sign international agreements and create representative offices in third countries and at international organisations.
The Commission will have a Council made up of deputy prime ministers, which will carry out overall supervision of integration processes, and a Board, a working body to which all member states will delegate their representatives.
Khristenko, 54, born in the Chelyabinsk region, is one of the old-timers in the Russian government, which he joined in 1997 as deputy finance minister. Since then he worked as deputy prime minister, minister of industry and energy, and minister of industry and trade.