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Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus promise Eurasian Union not to become new USSR

November 21, 2011, 14:05 UTC+3

Late last week the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed a declaration on Eurasian economic integration

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Late last week the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed a declaration on Eurasian economic integration targeted at the creation of the Common Economic Space of the three neighbouring countries. The three countries’ leaders promise not to return to the Soviet past, but take its best features while creating the Eurasian Economic Union.

On Friday, the heads of the three states signed a treaty on the creation of the Eurasian Economic Commission, RBK daily reported. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko will chair the commission. The Eurasian Economic Commission will start operation on January 1, 2012. The package of international treaties of the Common Economic Space of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia will enter into force on the same date. The end goal of the Friday agreements should be the emergence of the Eurasian Economic Union by 2015. Within its framework simplified rules for the free movement of goods, services, capitals and workforce will become effective.

The yet-to-be-created Eurasian Economic Union should consolidate economies of the three states, whose aggregate GDP, according to their leaders’ estimates, will reach around 2 trillion dollars, industrial potential – 600 million dollars and agriculture – 115 million dollars, the daily wrote. Journalists at the final news conference had an impression that the Eurasian Economic Union will be something like the European Union, but all three politicians drew a different analogy - experience looking back at the Soviet Union’s practices.

The commission’s main task is to ensure operation and development of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space as well as to draft proposals for economic integration, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. The new structure that will start operation on January 1, 2012, will consist of the council and the collegium. No member-country will be granted the right to occupy a dominant position. The council will be formed from deputy prime ministers, while the collegium will include the countries’ representatives enjoying the status of international independent officials.

Experts in their comments on the signing of the treaty highlighted Russia’s role, the daily wrote. The head of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, expressed confidence that “I see one of the key achievements of Medvedev’s three year and a half presidency in this very practical result: the creation of the Customs Union and the start-up of the formation of the Common Economic Space as a nucleus of a new geo-economic bloc.

The deputy head of the regional economics and economic geography department of the Higher School of Economics, Alexei Skopin, was cited by Novye Izvestiya as saying that although agreements were allegedly reached, many questions still remain. “The countries should unify the legal base for further integration. But it is a point of debates which legislation can be taken as a basis,” he said. “For instance, Kazakhstan’s laws are loyal for doing business, while Russia’s ones are visa versa too tough, therefore our businesses vote against this with money – pulling funds from Russian banks to foreign countries.”

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