NOVO OGAREVO, October 22 (Itar-Tass) —— President Vladimir Putin said membership in the Customs Union is a volunteer choice of each country but it brings big benefits.
“I mean the deep level of cooperation between our enterprises, and some of them cannot even exist without each other, and this is so important for further development that it is absolutely natural to create special conditions for the development of cooperative ties,” Putin stressed at the talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on Monday, October 22.
“This is a mutual process, with deep analysis and respect for each other’s interests,” he added.
Putin believes that cooperation between Russia and Ukraine “has been successfully developing in politics, international affairs and economy”.
“I think your visit is timely,” he said.
Yanukovich said that deeper cooperation within the Customs Union could benefit manufacturers.
Accession to the Customs Union could allow Ukraine to buy Russian natural gas at a lower price, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said earlier.
“If Ukraine wants price advantages [in gas supplies] in relations with Russia, Kiev may have to join the Customs Union,” he said.
“Customs Union partners get certain price advantages from cooperation within the organisation,” the deputy prime minister added.
Dvorkovich noted that the state does not want to interfere in the talks between Gazprom and its partners.
Ukraine may join the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus as its full member, Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Andrei Klyuyev said earlier.
“I want to confirm, one more time our intention to develop cooperation with the Customs Union in the ‘3+1’ format. This format does not rule out full membership of our state in this association,” Klyuyev said.
Ukraine and the Customs Union countries are engaged in a normal and respectful dialogue, Yanukovich said.
“There is no conflict between us. We are engaged in dialogue,” he said.
The president said, “Ukraine is a WTO member, while Russia and Kazakhstan are in the process of accession to this international organisation. As soon as they enter the WTO and the Customs Union has its rules in place and working, we will look at its effectiveness.”
“If the Customs Union meets [our] national interests, we will decide then,” he added.
Yanukovich stressed, “We want to look into the future consciously and intelligently”.
He proposed “3+1” participation in Customs Union for Ukraine.
“We are working on these documents [on Ukraine's access to the Customs Union by the ‘3+1’ formula] practically every day. Work is now underway at the level of authorised representatives of the governments of Russia and Ukraine. And our president will discuss them with the president of Russia tomorrow,” Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said earlier.
According to the prime minister, the “3+1” formula can be filled with real substance. “We have an interest in a number of agreements that have already been formed in the Customs Union, and we are working on these agreements right now,” he said.