Eurasian Integration: Problems and Prospects

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Eurasian Integration: Problems and Prospects 07.06.2018 13:57


May 28, 2018 in the conference hall of the IMEMO RAS, the Center for Post-Soviet Studies held an international round table with the participation of experts from the EAEU countries (Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan). This event was timed to the international forum of experts, politicians and diplomats passing on May 29-30 "Primakov Readings". With a welcoming speech at the conference were: A.A. Dynkin, Academician of RAS, President of IMEMO RAS; A.V. Kuznetsov, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Deputy Director of IMEMO RAS; G.I. Chufrin, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, scientific director of the Center for Post-Soviet Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In his speech G. Chufrin focused on the process of Eurasian integration. In particular, he noted that Eurasian integration is a multi-level process. So, the first level is occupied by the countries-members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), to the second level are the countries with which the EAEU interacts. The third level is occupied by countries that are wary of the EAEU (first of all, Ukraine, then Georgia and Moldova). Nevertheless, in the last of these countries a high flow of labor migration to Russia (more than 500,000 people) remains. Moreover, recently at the meeting of the Eurasian Economic Council, President I. Dodon signed the document on Moldova's accession to the EAEU as an observer.

G. Chufrin analyzed the factors that influence the process of Eurasian integration. He noted that the importance of the domestic (economic) factor has recently increased. This is largely due to the adoption of the Customs Code of the EAEU, which should accelerate the process of Eurasian integration, the growth of domestic trade, but at the same time associated with a change in the supply / demand curve in the post-Soviet space.

In addition, according to the expert, the role of the social factor, oriented to the development of human capital, the building of social chains, the quality of education and scientific and technical cooperation among the EAEU member countries, is no less important. The reason for this importance lies in the challenge to the EAEU countries of the world economy in the field of informatization and digitization of the economic structure and competitiveness in the world market.

In conclusion, the expert paid attention to the security factor, which should be provided in the context of manifestations of extremism and terrorism in the member countries of the EAEU.

Head of the Center for Post-Soviet Studies of the IMEMO RAS A. Krylov spoke on "Post-Soviet states: the features of the current stage of development." In his report, he made a retrospective analysis of the development of the international situation around the post-Soviet states. A. Krylov drew attention to the fact that the logic of the existence of the post-Soviet space is due to the following factors:

a) asymmetric partnership of the countries of the former USSR with the EU countries;

b) the formation of new post-Soviet elites, quite confrontational with respect to Russia;

c) the expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) to Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, which is accompanied by the desire of the US to secure a military presence in the countries of Central Asia;

d) the US attempt to "shift" the share of responsibility for the confrontation between Russia and the US in the post-Soviet space on the EU.

A unipolar world led by the United States, the expert notes, ceased to exist. There is a process of forming a new world order and building a multipolar world involving Asian giants of China, India and other developing countries of the third world, as well as major international organizations and associations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS.

In conclusion, A. Krylov states that the multi-vector policy of some post-Soviet states inevitably leads to distraction from Russia. Moreover, the "fork" of the vector of foreign policy development is gradually narrowing.

Director of the Institute for International and Regional Cooperation of the Kazakh-German University B. Sultanov spoke on "Problems and prospects for Eurasian integration: a view from Kazakhstan". He outlined some prospects for Eurasian integration. First of all, due to the unpredictability of the external factor in international relations, this plays both a negative and a positive role. In his opinion, even the conservative German press publishes publications about the reduction of confidence in the US and its increase to Russia.

Further, the expert said that the former Soviet republics had left the so-called "Birth trauma" from the Yeltsin-Kozyrev foreign policy. In this regard, B. Sultanov gave an example of a conversation between the President of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev with Russian Deputy Prime Minister A. Shokhin, whom the latter advised to leave the ruble zone. He also paid attention to the thesis about the influence of China not only in Kazakhstan, but also in Central and Eastern Europe. Thus, China actively invests in the development of transport communications and the construction of plants, that is, it is engaged in providing industrial development of the depressed regions of the EU. This was confirmed by the fact that on November 20, 2017, a 16 + 1 meeting was held with the participation of China and the EU countries.

Regarding the Eurasian integration of Kazakhstan, the expert noted that there is competition between the EAEU and the Chinese initiative "Economic belt of the Silk Road" (ESMP). This is important for Kazakhstan transit and export potential and the main task for the leadership of the country is how to use the Chinese potential without damage to the EAEC. In the conditions of the future transit of power in the republic, the general foreign policy course of the first president NA will remain. Nazarbayev, but it is important to solve the problems on the Russian-Kazakh border regarding the ban on the import of products to Russia from the Central Asian republic. One of the reasons for the multi-vector nature of Kazakhstan's foreign policy, the expert calls oil exports, mainly to the EU (Italy, the Netherlands, and France) and China. But such exports go to Russia.

Further on the topic "CIS: problems and development prospects" A. Kushnirenko, Director of the Department of Economic Cooperation of the CIS Executive Committee made a speech. In his report, he disclosed the problems facing the development of the EAEC. Of these, in his opinion, the main are:

 - raw materials export and labor resources of the EAEU member countries;

- economic barriers within the EAEU member countries;

- multi-vector foreign policy of some states.

The expert noted that politics is a concentrated expression of the economy, and integration is very practical. Consequently, it requires joint economic success. The researcher believes that for joint economic development it is necessary to jointly produce goods in a new format using modern production chains of high added value. It should be taken into account that GDP growth rates in some CIS countries reach 6-7%, while in Russia - only 1.5%. In conclusion, he noted that to ensure sustainable economic development, it is necessary to enter the market of 300 million people.

From the Republic of Belarus the head of the department of political science of the Belarusian Economic University N.Veremeyev on the theme "Eurasian and European vectors of politics of the Republic of Belarus". In his report he touched upon the issue of normalization of relations between the republic and the EU, with which unresolved problems remain

- sanctions;

- a complicated visa regime (the cost of a visa fee is $60);

- lack of a basic agreement - Agreement on partnership and cooperation with the EU.

Meanwhile, in foreign policy Minsk is ready to act as a platform for dialogue between Russia and the EU and supports Moscow in a negative way on NATO's expansion to the east.

Concerning the Eurasian direction, the expert expressed his opinion on the high level of integration and economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia. And between them permanently there are problems:

a) dairy, gas / oil wars;

b) misunderstandings at the level of bilateral relations;

c) the lack of a clear ideology - the program of the future;

d) the need to coordinate foreign policy steps.

The expert considers regional security to be the main issue and expressed concern over the events in the southeast of Ukraine. Minsk is interested in an early settlement of this armed conflict.

Further, the head of the sector of the Center for Political Studies of the IMEMO RAS, E. Kuzmina on the topic "ЕАEU: economic results and prospects". Like previous speakers, the speaker mainly focused on the problems of the EAEU. In particular, the expert noted that in view of the unfavorable external situation in the EAEU, work is underway to eliminate tariff barriers; there are also issues on non-tariff barriers. The researcher stated the growth of trade within the EAEU by 27%.

However, the following problems remain unsolved:

- the mainstay of the economy of the EAEU mainly on raw materials and primary processing goods;

- the minimum number of common projects in production, and in some sectors there are technological platforms, for example in the field of biotechnology;

- lack of focus on the formation of the domestic consumption market;

- unrealized projects related to the power industry;

- insufficient level of logistics and transport system (railroad track difference, difficulty in bringing to the EU market, since the railway network in Poland is not sufficiently developed).

There are also issues related to Russia's participation in the EAEU. The expert sees its role in ensuring the growth of mutual investment and increasing trade turnover.

In the second section on the topic "Armenian factor in world and regional politics" made by R. Safrastyan, director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia made a report. In his report, the expert defined the Armenian factor in world politics, which is that "... everything that is related to Armenians, but does not belong to the foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia".

The expert believes that the Armenian factor consists of two main components. The first component refers to the Armenian issue, which in turn consists in the re-creation of Armenian statehood (in particular, it refers to the history and conclusion of the Treaty of Sevres, according to which Armenia belongs to the Middle Eastern countries) and recognition of the Armenian genocide and its negative consequences. All this unites the Armenians of the whole world. The second component is the work of the Armenian Diaspora in the United States, France and other countries.

Regarding the influence of the April events on the Armenian factor, R. Safrastyan informed that there was no trust of the Armenian Diaspora to the internal policy of the Republic of Armenia or was at a low level. The events that took place aroused a wave of optimism about the future of Armenia. "Young people made a revolution," thereby strengthening the Armenian factor.

The expert also touched upon the issue of Eurasian integration and the April events. He assured that this domestic political situation will not worsen Russian-Armenian relations. Armenia clearly understands that without a strong ally, due to the prevailing circumstances in the region, it will be completely isolated.

Then came the deputy director of the branch of the “Eurasians- New Wave” Fund in the Kyrgyz Republic, D. Berdakov, on the topic "Perspectives of Eurasian integration: a view from Kyrgyzstan". The leitmotif of the report was the answer to the question of adaptation of the Kyrgyz economy to the EAGE. The researcher said that before joining the EAEU, the republic's economy was focused on the markets of China, Turkey and the UAE. While Kyrgyzstan is in the EAE, prices rose by 3-7%, but still it is below official inflation. Due to participation in the Union, the revenues of the state budget grew. Four trade and logistics centers were created, and another 11 are planned to be built. This project was implemented with the assistance of the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund, which is the most important instrument of the process of integration of the Kyrgyz Republic into the EAEU.

Through the process of Eurasian integration, the flow of labor migration from Kyrgyzstan increased: 750,000 people to Russia and 10,000 people in Kazakhstan). In 2017, due to this, remittances to the country totaled $2.4 billion. In conclusion, the researcher noted that the participation of Kyrgyzstan in the EAEU saved the country from a social and political catastrophe.

Report of the director of the Caucasus Institute A. Iskandaryan was devoted to the topic "Armenia after the change of power in April 2018". The expert started his speech with the statement that the post-Soviet space is no longer there. A consequence of this is the variability of the internal and foreign policies of the republics of the USSR. In this connection, various political processes are taking place from the preservation of the political regime in some Turkic republics of the USSR to the political history of post-Soviet Armenia, when the authorities always "took over" power, and not "inherited".

Then the expert went on to explain the reasons for the April events (2018). In the political sphere, coming to power in March 2008, S. Sargsyan helped to reduce the support of the ruling "Republican Party of Armenia" (RPA) from the local population. Then in the country there was an unfavorable situation in the economic sphere amid the global financial crisis of 2008, which led to a sharp economic recession in the Republic of Armenia. Another reason for the current events was the low rating of the entire political system, using non-ideological methods of fighting for power by the RPA. At the same time, the ruling elite did not pay much attention to street protests, considering it a technical problem.

The problems in the field of security, primarily in the Nagorno-Karabakh zone, from the sniper war to the destruction in November 2014 of the Mi-24 combat helicopter and the use of heavy flame-throwing systems TUU-1S Solntsepek and rocket launcher systems in the " four-day war "in April 2016. It should be noted that after the" four-day "April war, the rating of the Armenian army significantly decreased in social and psychological terms. Moreover, recently the Armenian state is deeply concerned about the state of the Armenian-Nakhichevan border, near which the exercises of the Azerbaijani army are conducted with the participation of Turkish servicemen.

2014 became a turning point in the political history of the Republic of Armenia. President Sargsyan signed documents on Armenia's accession to the EAEU, thereby confirming the intention to develop the Eurasian vector in foreign policy. At the same time, in the internal political situation, a decision was taken to create a new political system and amend the Constitution. According to the expert, thus, S. Sargsyan, tried to improve the image of the RPA. After promising to refuse further from the post of prime minister, S. Sargsyan avoided street protests on the issue of constitutional reform.

In July 2016, an armed group of supporters of the radical oppositionist G. Sefilyan took over the building of the patrol and guard service. The confrontation between this group and the police led to human casualties. Moreover, according to the expert, already at that time among the masses there was no rejection of this kind of extremism.

Further A. Iskandaryan passed to the April events (2018), which led to the change of political power in the republic. He noticed that in this coup there was a creative moment. At the beginning of the development of a bloodless transfer of power, on April 13, young people, mostly high school students and first-year students aged 16-19, left for rallies demanding the resignation of Prime Minister S. Sargsyan who vaguely remember or do not remember the tragic events of 2008 vaguely. The protesters the tactic of blocking streets was successfully used, which was necessary for building up crowds. Soon the opposition leader N. Pashinyan and his associates were detained, which caused a wave of protest sentiments in the republic. After that, their parents and representatives of other social strata joined the youth. The rallies began to take place throughout Armenia. The expert notes that everything happened simultaneously and was synchronized.

On April 24, a total of 600-700,000 people came to the streets to commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. After unsuccessful negotiations, Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan had no choice but to resign. According to the expert, Armenian Prime Minister S. Sargsyan, elected by the parliament, remained in power based on the logic of the transition period. He did not have time to give up power, but subsequently recognized a strategic error. Armenian President V. Sargsyan called the events "a velvet transfer of power". In the opinion of A. Iskandaryan, now there is a natural process of power change in the republic.

Nevertheless, the new government is facing old structural problems. Thus, in the internal political sphere, it is necessary to solve the problem of the parliamentary majority of the RPA (it is possible that until the end of 2018, new parliamentary elections will be held in Armenia); strengthening the political power of Prime Minister N. Pashinyan through, for example, the creation of a new political party.

In the opinion of A. Iskandaryan, the party of the parliamentary majority of the RPA is in a deep crisis. And the main task is the possibility of its preservation as a political element. According to the social structure, this party consists of large businessmen (oligarchs), technocrat officials and politicians. It is likely that one of these social groups - oligarchs, will be transferred to a new party of N. Pashinyan. In addition, it is necessary to structure the opposition, which is now sufficiently personified.

In the opinion of A. Iskandaryan, the party of the parliamentary majority of the RPA is in a deep crisis. And the main task is the possibility of its preservation as a political element. According to the social structure, this party consists of large businessmen (oligarchs), technocrat officials and politicians. It is likely that one of these social groups - oligarchs, will be transferred to a new party of N. Pashinyan. In addition, it is necessary to structure the opposition, which is now sufficiently personified.

In the economic sphere, too, a large number of problems have accumulated, including a public debt of $7 billion. Safrastyan in the republic ended the process of primary accumulation of capital, which inevitably led to a change in the political regime.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister N. Pashinyan assured in maintaining the adherence to the foreign policy course of Armenia. Mainly, the country faces an urgent need to ensure security due to its geographical location, the presence of the unsettled Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as the closed border with Turkey.

Thus, experts noted the complexity and variability of internal political processes in the post-Soviet space, as well as the presence of challenges in the sphere of national security. The process of transition of national economies to the supra-national institutions of the EAEU is also complicated, with the resulting economic problems and insufficiently prepared infrastructure. Nevertheless, for small republics, for example, Kyrgyzstan, this to some extent contributed to economic development in the short term.

On the other hand, the complementary policy of other countries of the EAEU members does not hinder the development of relations with the EU. The main problem facing the post-Soviet space in general, and the member states of the EAEU in particular, lies in the search for a political and economic balance between Russia and China or between Russia and the EU. At present, it is obvious that in the economic sphere China prevails in Central Asia, partly in Belarus and, least of all, in Armenia. And Russia needs to take this into account both now and in the future.