Friday, May 30, 2014

Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia Establish Eurasian Union

With the milestone agreement to create a Eurasian economic union clinched in Kazakhstan on Thursday, Russia put cheap energy resources at the head of its drive to pull former Soviet states away from European integration and into its orbit. The Eurasian Economic Union agreement, signed by the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in the Kazakh capital of Astana, will come into force on Jan. 1, 2015. It anticipates the gradual integration of the three former Soviet countries' economies, establishing free trade, unbarred financial interaction and unhindered labor migration. The pact combines the previous agreements reached between the three countries under the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space, which were formed in 2010 and 2011, and have been generally considered a success. At the signing ceremony, President Vladimir Putin said "Today we are creating a powerful center of gravity for economic development, a large regional market that unites more than 170 million people," according to an official transcript. He also stressed that the union's combined territory is a hydrocarbon treasury, possessing one-fifth of all global natural gas resources and 15 percent of all oil reserves. Russia's gain in entering the Eurasian union is more political than economic — particularly as Russia is still smarting from the recent failure of its attempts to draw Ukraine into the Customs Union. As for Kazakhstan and Belarus, they are pursuing their own economic interests rather than any dream of forming super-state between Europe and Asia, both their leaders and analysts said.

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