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Putin: Russia seeks economic integration, not revival of imperial status

June 05, 2014, 2:50 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, June 05. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s course toward the integration process within the frames of the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union does not mean that the country aims for the revival of the imperial status or establishment of the Russian nationalism, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with French media.

“Undoubtedly, we want to develop our country within our borders,” Putin said in an interview with French television channel TF1 and radio station Europe-1. “However, it is very important that we, just like other countries in many regions of the world, want to use modern tools to increase our competitiveness, including by means of economic integration.”

“This is what we are exactly doing on the post-Soviet arena within the frames of the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union,” the Russian leader said on the eve of his two-day visit to France beginning on Thursday.

In late May, Presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus - Vladimir Putin, Nursultan Nazarbayev and Alexander Lukashenko signed a treaty on setting up the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). The treaty will come into effect on January 1, 2015 and is based on the contractual and legal basis of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space, the norms of which have been optimized, improved and brought into compliance with the rules of the World Trade Organization.

The Russian president said that “politics based of expansionism and some sorts of conquests have no future in the modern world.”

“Russia in the modern and in the future world can be and must be a partner for our traditional ally states in a broad sense of this word,” Putin said. “This is what we want and will be striving for and we cannot think of any other relations with our neighbors as well as with the rest of the countries.”

Within the frames of the signed EEU treaty Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan undertake to guarantee the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce and implement a coordinated policy in the key sectors of the economy such as energy, industry, agriculture and transport. A number of political scientists and experts suggested that Putin was spreading Russia’s dominance over former Soviet republics.

“We are neither supporting the Russian nationalism, nor intending to revive the [Russian] empire,” he said.

According to Putin, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes of the 20th century.

“During the times of the Soviet Union all citizens lived in one single country despite their ethnic belonging, but after the USSR collapsed 25 million Russian people suddenly found themselves living abroad. This was a real humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.

The Russian president added that the collapse of the USSR was “neither political, nor ideological catastrophe, but purely a humanitarian problem.”

“Families were left separated, people lost jobs and were left without any means to provide for the living or any possibilities of normally communicating with each other. This is the problem,” Putin added.

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