Belarusian problem of Eurasian integration

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Belarusian problem of Eurasian integration 17.02.2017 18:22

At the present time for the development of the Eurasian integration the biggest problem is the deterioration of Russian-Belarusian relations. In particular, Rosselkhoznadzor expressed deep concern in view of the increasing attempts to import into Russia from the territory of Belarus animal products of unknown origin, as well as the case of detection of non-compliance of Belarusian products to the requirements of quality and safety legislation. So now the Belarusian goods will be tracked from the border crossing with the Russian Federation to the place of their realization with the help of information systems "Argus" and "Mercury". This will prevent from claims of the Belarusian side.

 

Rosselkhoznadzor will inform the heads of veterinary administration of the Russian Federation that the decision on the future use of animal products, received from Belarus, should be taken after a check in the automated system "Argus"of information about the passage of the party of the goods across the border of the Russian Federation.

In addition, Rosselkhoznadzor considers it necessary to make in the veterinary certificates information about the number and date of the certificate of registration, which is accompanied by these parties to Russian economic entities. This will also exclude any matters that relate to proof of origin of products arising from the sampling. Thus, the Russian Federation has restricted the importation of meat products of two Belarusian companies, suspecting that they deliver the goods from Ukraine.

 

Of course, problems in Russian-Belarusian relations have always existed, and they gradually accumulate. As a consequence, with February 7, 2017, Russia was forced to unilaterally impose the border regime with Belarus with a view to, inter alia, to prevent foreigners through the open Russian-Belarusian border (formerly Minsk also without agreement with Russia allowed visa-free entry to Belarus for up to five days after Minsk airport of 80 countries citizens). It happened after more than twenty years of free movement of passengers and cargos between the two countries. However, this border is transparent and open to the citizens of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.

 

All this is happening against the backdrop of worsening bilateral dispute linked to the price of Russian natural gas and deliveries of crude oil to Belarus, which, in fact, is a form of subsidizing the Belarusian economy. So, President Alexander Lukashenko said it is just to pay $83 per 1,000 м3 taking into account the reduction of global prices for hydrocarbons. However, in 2016 Minsk paid $107 for Russian gas per thousand m3, which was significantly lower than the contract deals of PJSC "Gazprom" ($132).

 

In addition, trying to restore the Belarusian debt of $550 million, Moscow in the second half of 2016 reduced the supply of oil to the country in half times. Before that Belarus successfully traded petroleum products produced from Russian raw materials to obtain significant economic dividends.

 

If the Russian-Belarusian relations continue to develop in a negative scenario, in some point Minsk may withdraw from the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which will be a serious blow to the Eurasian integration (President Alexander Lukashenko said that the Belarusian specialists have already withdrawn from the customs authorities of the EAEU and trade with this country fell by 40% in 2016). In fact, even what has already occurred, is calling into serious question the existence of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus Union State?

 

It should be noted that in December 2016, the Belarusian authorities have repeatedly declared unsatisfactory state of affairs in the EAEU. In particular, the chairman of the House of Representatives of National Assembly of Belarus Vladimir Andreichenko at a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union State of Russia and Belarus has identified the following issues that are not satisfied with the Belarusian side:

- the absence of real steps towards economic integration in the EAEU;

- continued restrictions for Belarusian producers to enter the Russian market;

- the establishment of the EAEU as a political association;

- lack of ability of Belarusian manufacturers to purchase natural gas at Russian domestic prices;

- the introduction of control on the Russian-Belarusian border.

 

At the same time Minsk is trying not to notice the growth of the international authority of the EAEU. So, in the middle of 2017 the Eurasian Economic Commission intends to complete the negotiations with Iran on the establishment of a temporary free trade zone. Currently, the relevant consultation is carried out on specific products, which will eliminate or reduce tariff protection. For completion this process it may be necessary and make decisions on matters of principle with the Iranian leadership.

 

Another member of EAEU is extremely interested - Armenia, for example, which seeks to build a railway to Iran to withdraw from the current isolation by Azerbaijan and Turkey. It is believed in Yerevan, this railway project is an additional incentive to the development of a free trade area between the EAEU and Iran.

 

As yet another success in the activities of the EAEU should be noted that in the framework of the creation of the organization in a single information space of the special role of acquiring educational projects in the humanitarian sphere in Russian. This allows rising a new generation of humanitarian intelligent people in EAEU member states, which are capable of forming friendly information and cultural policies. Such programs could be aimed at the training of writers, artists, musicians, actors and journalists. In this connection the creation of Master's programs in Russian is promising in the framework of the Russian universities for students of creative disciplines who have already received a bachelor's degree in their respective countries.

 

An important factor in the Eurasian integration in the scientific and educational sphere is the Eurasian Association of Universities. It now brings together more than one hundred universities in the EAEU Member States. And April 12, 2016 at a meeting of the Board of the Eurasian Association of Universities, which was held in Moscow State University, signed a memorandum on the establishment of the Eurasian University network. 23 countries were its founders: Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and others. The activities of the university are being implemented in the form of preparation of joint educational programs for graduate training for the EAEU market.

 

In addition, in recent months, 10 Lomonosov centers have been established in different countries. They are working for the dissemination of the Russian language and culture; on their basis the various centers are being established.

 

Thus, there is an idea that the Belarusian side deliberately goes to the worsening of relations with Moscow, reporting on its ability to exit the EAEU. But the question is how to do it in practice? If the national economy of Belarus is extremely deeply integrated into it (in particular this applies to Russian-Belarusian relations in the economic sphere). Apparently, this approach by Minsk is a mistake. And it can lead not only to economic problems, but also to the emergence of a political crisis in the country.

 

Vladimir Evseev, Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS Countries