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Deputy PM Shuvalov says no threat from Eurasian block for EU

January 28, 2014, 16:33 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Igor Shuvalov said European countries started the process of integration much earlier and had gone further
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Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov

Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov

© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Klimentyev

MOSCOW, January 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov has called on the European Union not to perceive “the nascent economic union between Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia” as a threat.

In an article published by the Financial Times newspaper on Tuesday, he said: “Critics of the Eurasian Economic Union argue that it attempts to restore the Soviet Union and establish regional hegemony. In fact, if there is a model that serves as inspiration for Eurasian economic integration, it is not the Soviet Union but the EU itself.”

Shuvalov said European countries started the process of integration much earlier and had gone further: “They have reached the next stage, of monetary union, which we are not yet even discussing.”

For the Eurasian space, the most current issue at this stage was economic integration: free movement of goods, capital, services and a single labor market, he said, adding that the Eurasian Economic Commission was now highly effective at working with national authorities on a wide range of issues.

“All countries are entitled to build such alliances - why not Russia and its partners?” Shuvalov asked, noting that it would be reckless for Russia and others in the broader Eurasian region to neglect to pursue this end.

“Our countries are closely connected, culturally as well as economically,” he said. “The union brings both stability and economic opportunity.”

He added that it was Russia’s sovereign right to decide its own course of action: “Such choices are sometimes difficult. But the Eurasian Economic Union is rapidly becoming reality. A treaty will be drafted by May, for debate and ratification in the member states later this year.”

Shuvalov recalled Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to build closer economic links between the EU and Russia that would lead to “a free-trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok”.

“It is time to embrace pragmatism and leave the ideological baggage behind,” he said. “Creating a common economic area must now be the priority for Moscow and Brussels.

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