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Putin travels to Minsk to attend SEEC, CIS summits

October 24, 2013, 10:33 UTC+3
The SEEC is the main body of the Customs Union (CU) and of the Common Economic Space (CES) of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan
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MOSCOW/MINSK, October 24 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin travels to Minsk on Thursday to attend a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC) at the level of Heads of State. The program for the Russian leader's stay in the Belarusian capital will be continued on Friday, October 25, with his participation in a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit.

The SEEC is the main body of the Customs Union (CU) and of the Common Economic Space (CES) of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

Yuri Ushakov, Assistant to the RF President, told journalists that the theme of Thursday's meeting of the leaders of the three countries would be the establishment of an Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) by January 1, 2015. "It is planned that the Heads of State will review the work on a draft Treaty on EAEU," he said.

Kremlin analysts hope that the summit "will be fruitful and give an additional impetus to the current integration processes".

President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus does not rule it out, however, that the elaboration of the contents of the Treaty on EAEU may entail certain difficulties. "I think that there will be a lot of tilts at the issue at the summit, fort it involves the economic and financial interests of the CU Member-States. This is big-time politics, too," he said earlier.

The agenda of the summit also includes the theme of a possible enlargement of the membership of the integration association: this refers, in particular, to Armenia. "This matter is immensely important," Ushakov emphasized, without ruling it out that the Republic's President Serge Sargsyan will participate in discussing the relevant question at the summit.

The session in a broader format will be attended, along with Sargsyan, by members of the leadership of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Ukraine.

Lukashenko, when speaking of prospects for Kyrgyzstan's and Armenia's accession to the Customs Union, supposed that "This is, possibly, the road that will be followed by other CIS countries. At any rate, we suggest this to the ex-Soviet republics, especially Ukraine," he said.

Meanwhile, at a recent meeting with media chiefs of CIS countries, Lukashenko expressed the view that Yerevan is unlikely to join the CU in the short term. He said Armenia at the summit in Minsk would sign an official document only about an intention to accede to the CU, which does not mean a completion of this process at an earliest date.

As far as Kyrgyzstan's accession to the CU is concerned, the Belarusian President said, "We told it straight: If you honor all the terms which we assumed together with Russia and Kazakhstan, just join it. Carry out State procedures at home, and we shall have no grounds to turn down your accession".

At the close of the summit, the Presidents of the Russian Federation, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, as well as Head of the Eurasian Economic Commission Viktor Khristenko will meet media people. The forum's program will be concluded with a traditional dinner to be given for the participants in the summit on behalf of the Belarusian leader.

Besides, the Russian President is also to hold a number of bilateral meetings with his opposite numbers on the sidelines of the summit.

The Minsk summit of the Eurasian Council will be a second meeting out of three ones planned out for this year in the form of a troika. The first one was held in Astana on May 29. "It is obvious that, if an understanding is reached, the third one will be held in Russia," Ushakov said.

On Friday, October 25, Vladimir Putin in Minsk will attend a meeting of the CIS Council of the Heads of State. The summit will be a key event during the presidency of Belarus at the CIS, ahead of the transfer of the presidency in the association to Ukraine (for 2014).

Sergei Lebedev, Head of the CIS Executive Committee, said the agenda of the meeting of the Presidents of CIS countries comprises 14 items which encompass all aspects of activity: security, economic, and humanitarian ones.

In particular, the leaders are to make a decision on declaring 2014 a Year of Tourism in the CIS, and 2015 — in view of the 70th anniversary of the VE Victory — a Year of the Veterans of the Great Patriotic War. The question of common jubilee medals on the occasion of the memorable date will be also raised.

"The practice of declaring thematic years in the CIS exists since 2008. Last year was dedicated to sports and healthy way of life, and this year is dedicated to ecological culture and protection of the environment," Ushakov recalls.

Those present at the summit are also to decide on declaring the cities of Almaty (Kazakhstan), and Osh (Kyrgyzstan) as the cultural capitals of the CIS. Earlier this title was awarded to Ulyanovsk and Gomel (in 2011), Astana and Maram (2012), and Gabala, Gyumri, and Mogilyov (2013).

As for interaction in the field of law enforcement, an Agreement on the establishment of an Interstate Council on counteraction to corruption has been prepared for signature on Russia's initiative to exercise coordination in this respect. It is also expected that programs for cooperation in the fight against crime, terrorism, trafficking in narcotics, and trade in humans will be approved. 

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