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Road to Eurasian Economic Union bumpier than it seems

15 december 2014, 13:30
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©Tengrinews file illustration
©Tengrinews file illustration

The Eurasian Economic Union will soon officially come into force, bringing the economies and trade of the joining parties - Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia - to a new level of integration. Nevertheless, the road is bumpier than it might seem.

Less than a month before the Union officially activates, Belarus unilaterally restored the customs posts on the border with Russia. This came after Russia accused Belarus of re-exporting banned goods by supposedly supplying them to Kazakhstan but eventually dispersing them in Russia.

Russia banned the importation of a number of Belorussian products. It also launched an inspection of the Russian checkpoints for food products from Belarus transiting through Russia to Kazakhstan. To this Lukashenko said that Russia was violating the Custom Union agreements.

According to Kazakh political analyst Dosym Satpayev, Kazakhstan would probably have to mitigate the situation.

Head of Risk Assessment Group Satpayev noted that the re-export dispute between the two countries had continued for several months. There were suggestions on the table to find a compromise but they did not lead to proper negotiations.

“Most likely, Kazakhstan, in the person of its President Nursultan Nazarbayev, will have to again play the role of a mediator, a peacemaker between Russia and Belarus. Kazakhstan leaders closely link the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union with its foreign policies,” Satpayev said.

Russia has been using this integration project to achieve its “geopolitical purposes”, he said. As for Lukashenko, his motives are “more pragmatic” and he has “very specific economic benefits for Belarus in view”. This is why he tries to use various methods of applying pressure on Russia.

Satpayev mentioned that the dispute over re-export is how Lukashenko was trying to bargain himself a better deal.

"Lukashenko has shown, especially clearly this year, that he likes to whip up tension before starting an important project. For example, shortly before the signing of the agreement on the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union in May this year, he hinted that he might not sign it at all because he was not satisfied with some of the principles of the Customs Union and he wanted to get some dividends. Incidentally, he received economic dividends from Russia. Now, the Eurasian Economic Union is starting its work on January 1, 2015. And Belarus is again pressuring Moscow," the Kazakh analyst said.

In turn, the director of the research center Alternative Andrey Chebotarev said that the conflict simply reflected the lack of a dispute resolution mechanism.

He said that the Eurasian Economic Union envisioned a court that would deal with such contentious issues.

But at this point the fact stands: countries still resort to extreme measures.

The political scientist said, however, that the dispute between the two partners in the Customs Union would not have a serious effect on the economy of Kazakhstan.

Reporting by Alisher Akhmetov, writing by Dinara Urazova


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