Posted: 25.12.2023 15:00:00

EAEU and CIS summits in St. Petersburg: possible results

A meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council with the participation of the EAEU heads of state is held in St. Petersburg today, December 25th. Belarus’ President Aleksandr Lukashenko is among those taking part. After discussing the affairs of the Eurasian economic integration, the heads of state will communicate in a broader format, and an informal CIS summit will be held in the northern capital of Russia on December 26th.

Such New Year's Eve meetings of the heads of state have already become a good tradition, which creates a great opportunity to sum up the results of the outgoing year and discuss promising areas for the integration development. Of course, there will be a lot of informal communication these days, which will enable the heads of state to exchange views on the most pressing issues – doing this calmly, confidently and without unnecessary ceremony. Importantly, meetings and discussions of the kind are aimed at further preservation, improvement and strengthening of the countries’ integration associations.

The heads of state are expected to gather this afternoon at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, in the centre of St. Petersburg. This historic Synod building on Senate Square is quite often used for high-level meetings and summits.

In recent days, the main intrigue of the St. Petersburg summit was whether Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan would take part in it. Armenia will assume the chairmanship of the EAEU bodies in 2024, but, in November, Nikol Pashinyan refused to participate in the CSTO summit in Minsk, and he missed the CIS summit in Bishkek in October.

Meanwhile, in the context of the breakdown of the former unipolar model of the world order and the formation of a new world order, the role and importance of the Eurasian Economic Union is drastically increasing – including for Armenia. As Belarus’ President Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed at a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Moscow on May 25th this year, the Eurasian Economic Union should become one of the global decision-making centres. However, to achieve this, the participating countries should move faster along the path of integration, which envisages the formation of common markets for gas, oil and petroleum products, the implementation of measures on the digital agenda, and the liberalisation of the transport market. This is especially relevant now, when the West has launched sanctions against Russia and Belarus and has actually unleashed a new cold war against them.

In such a situation, the Belarusian side fundamentally insists that the creation of a full-fledged economic union, without barriers and restrictions, is still a priority for all EAEU participants. “This is the basic principle of building our union, and we must achieve this goal as soon as possible,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the May summit in Moscow.

More than two dozen issues are planned to be discussed at today's summit in St. Petersburg, and among them are the main tasks and key directions for the further development of integration processes in the Eurasian Economic Union for the period up to 2030 and 2045, the priorities of the international activities of the EAEU for 2024, and the main guidelines of the member states’ macroeconomic policy for 2024-2025.

By the way, according to the Statistics Department of the Eurasian Economic Commission, in January-September 2023, the EAEU gross domestic product (according to preliminary estimates) amounted to $1,701.3 billion dollars (103.1 percent against the same period last year). This is actually good dynamics, especially against the background of the decline in the economies of a number of Western countries.

In order to achieve the trajectory of an annual GDP growth at a pace higher than the one of global economic development, it is necessary to create favourable macroeconomic conditions within the EAEU for increasing investment, to develop the sci-tech potential, including through the implementation of new breakthrough projects in the field of industry and high technologies, and to expand export opportunities.

Following the results of today’s summit, several important decisions and documents are planned to be adopted. In particular, a declaration on the further development of the Eurasian Economic Union until 2030 and for the period up to 2045 is supposed to be signed.

In addition, an agreement on a free trade zone between the EAEU countries and Iran will be approved, which will become another step towards strengthening the EAEU geopolitical role and increasing its authority on the world stage. The document is expected to significantly increase the competitiveness of the goods of the EAEU member states and, due to this, increase exports to Iran and ensure savings on the payment of customs duties in Iran in the amount of up to $380m per year. It is expected that the total trade turnover will more than double, while co-operation and investment liaisons will intensify.

As for the CIS development and prospects, despite all the sceptics and enemies, the Commonwealth exists and develops. Over the past 2-3 years, the mutual trade turnover of the CIS countries has increased by 25-30 percent, and new areas of interaction are emerging. Sixty-eight industry councils operate within the CIS, and they co-ordinate co-operation in certain areas. A rich natural and economic potential of the member states makes it possible to solve many problems even under restrictions from the West.

On October 13th, President Aleksandr Lukashenko presented Belarus' position on the most pressing issues of co-operation within the Commonwealth at the CIS summit in Bishkek this year. Minsk assumes that the West will continue its attempts to undermine the space, weaken and subordinate it to its interests. This cannot be calmly observed from aside. “Otherwise, we will just be torn apart, and ordinary people – the peoples of our countries – will primarily suffer. Therefore, we, the heads of state, must fulfil the will of our voters and at least to implement and solve the tasks that we promised. We should not bury our heads in the sand,” the Belarusian leader said in Bishkek. “We see that all the long-standing conflicts that had been initiated by others inevitably come out with very sad consequences.”

The new political and economic realities require serious consolidation from the CIS members. In Bishkek, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the unique formats of unity in the CIS space should be preserved at all costs, no internal division and joining the ideologues and agents of sanctions pressure should be allowed. It is also unacceptable to succumb to provocations aimed at inciting interethnic and territorial disputes in the post-Soviet space.

Co-operation within the CIS is in demand among its member states, and it is facilitated not only by the geographical and historical proximity of the countries, but also by the geopolitical situation in the region and in the world. It is all the more important today to be even more united and to strengthen the common positions on all tracks of co-operation.

The annual practice of naming the CIS cultural capital is well justified. This year, St. Petersburg is such a capital, and Samarkand of Uzbekistan will take over the baton in 2024.

Last year, the CIS launched a number of important joint initiatives to develop co-operation in sports. As a result, the Commonwealth names the sports capital on an annual basis and hosts the CIS Games. Kazan hosted the first such competitions in 2021, and they have been held in Minsk this year.

2023 was announced the Russian Language Year in the CIS, and an agreement on the establishment of the International Organisation for the Russian Language – which aims to promote the language on a global scale – has been signed this year.

In his speech at the CIS summit in Bishkek, Aleksandr Lukashenko honestly and fundamentally shared his view on the issue, “We all speak Russian today, so we do not feel this colossal problem so acutely. Meanwhile, look at the youth in our republics. Many people there speak Russian worse and weaker than English and other languages. This [proficiency in Russian] is our greatest asset. We can get to the point that we will communicate through an interpreter. We should not lose the language of interethnic communication, as it is called.”

Of course, it is also very important to continue joint efforts to preserve the memory of the common history and prevent its falsification. Young people should know the objective truth about the achievements of their peoples in the USSR times, about the heroic deeds of their fathers and grandfathers during the Great Patriotic War. Moreover, the 80th anniversary of the Great Victory will soon be jointly celebrated. Recall that, by the decision of the CIS leaders, 2025 was declared the Year of the 80th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, Year of Peace and Unity in the Fight Against Nazism.