“This wonderful project established in December 1999 was aimed at creating a united state and we are going in this direction,” Rapota said at a forum devoted to the Union State’s15th anniversary held at the MGIMO Moscow Institute of International Relations.
“We speak about creating a common space for people so that they would exercise equal rights in the neighbouring territory, so that these rights would ensure freedom of residence, free travel across the border, free access to medical assistance and equal access to employment,” he said adding that “over the past 15 years it has been implemented to a large extent but there are certain unresolved issues, though, and it is only natural.”
“We are working on these unsettled issues,” Rapota said.
“We can say that the Union State has been still forming, and so we will be able to speak about some finishing stages” upon reaching these goals, Rapota said.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, State Secretary Grigory Karasin and Belarusian Counsellor Minister to Moscow Pavel Legky also participated in the opening ceremony of the forum.
Russia and Belarus are set to carry out a consolidated foreign policy and are working on establishing a common visa space, Grigory Karasin said at the forum.
“We have rather identical approaches to the international agenda,” Karasin said. “At the recent joint panels of the Russian and Belarusian Foreign Ministries in Minsk, a whole range of issues reporting to the setting up of a common visa space was debated.”
Karasin is confident that the project of the Union State of Russia and Belarus is spearheaded into the future.
“The past 15 years is just a takeoff run,” he said. “Over recent years the Russian-Belarusian integration has become irreversible and everyone can see its obvious benefits as today our countries are not divided any longer by borders and customs barriers, and closely cooperate in foreign policy, defence and security.”
“Much is done in ensuring equal rights for both countries’ citizens, in particular in employment and in access to the education, healthcare and pension systems,” the Russian deputy foreign minister said.
“The Union State has become a foundation that allowed us to come over to multilateral integration within the Eurasian Economic Union /EEU/ framework,” the diplomat said.
“The Union State that is a leader in integration processes keeps one step ahead,” Karasin said. “We are breaking a record of intensity of contacts at all levels and are getting ready to hold in Moscow a milestone event in our bilateral relations - a session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State.”
Karasin is confident that the Union State’s potential is rather considerable.
“Relationship between Russia and Belarus will be given a new dimension in the context of EEU launch next year,” he said. “The format of the Union State will not vanish but is consistently boosting. We should go ahead in energy, security and the humanitarian sphere along with implementation of major investment projects.