Such agreements more valuable than money

In recent weeks, integration has received more coverage than any other topic within the post-Soviet space. On November 25th, a serious package of documents was signed at a session of the Supreme State Council of the Belarus-Russia Union State, supplementing agreements relating to the establishment of the Eurasian Union.

By Kirill Yemelyanov

An agreement to form the Eurasian Economic Commission has been ratified by the parliaments, making it the first step on the path to forming the Eurasian Union. Belarusian deputies have followed their Russian colleagues in this matter. A supreme executive body is being created, acting as the future Eurasian Union’s government. The Commission is to feature the Deputy Prime Minister and three other representatives from each country.

In order for its normative base to comply with international obligations, Belarus has obtained a grace period until 2017 — as Deputy PM Sergei Rumas has informed. By this time, the regulation should have been lifted which currently envisages the obligatory sale of some part of companies’ foreign currency revenue. Deputy Anatoly Glaz asked whether this means that no single foreign currency will be introduced in our Union until then, to which Mr. Rumas replied, “To shift to a single currency, basic conditions are needed to harmonise our three countries’ foreign currency policy. At the moment, we have different approaches, so it’s too early to speak of a single currency — at least, no talks are being conducted at present.”

The deputies have no doubt as to the need to strengthen our integration, especially considering growing globalisation and competition on international markets. Only an integrated union can guarantee dynamic development. “As a good example, the Customs Union has led to mutual trade between our three countries rising by 40 percent — almost reaching $60bn in the first half of the year. Meanwhile, Belarus-Kazakhstan turnover has increased 5-fold. Post-Soviet states have more reason to unite than those in Western Europe, which inspires confidence in the future,” asserted the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the House of Representatives, Nikolai Samoseiko.

His colleague, Valentina Leonenko, is convinced that the Belarus-Russia Union State won’t be lost within the Eurasian configuration; rather, she believes that it will inspire further liaison, as confirmed by agreements reached during a session of Supreme State Council of the Belarus-Russia Union State in Moscow. Gazprom has already transferred $2.5bn to Belarus to pay for its recent acquisition of the remaining 50 percent of Beltransgas’ shares. Gas prices for Belarus are being cut to $165 in 2012, which should save $2bn from the Belarusian budget annually. Politologist Yuri Shevtsov considers the sale of the gas pipe to be ‘interlinked with Belarus’ guaranteed transition to low gas prices’. He adds, “This gives Belarusian industrial enterprises a more level footing on the Russian market — at least, for the near future.” In 2014, equal gas prices are hoped for.

Russia has announced its readiness to allocate a $10bn loan to construct a Belarusian nuclear power station. The ultimate goal of all uniting initiatives is to improve social conditions for residents, giving them a better standard of living, as politicians and experts stress.

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