The alliance against pandemic: will he hear the calls of the Russian Federation, PRC, and EAEU?

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The alliance against pandemic: will he hear the calls of the Russian Federation, PRC, and EAEU? 06.05.2020 12:34


The expression “life does not stand still” has always been fair, but today it is as fair as ever with respect to the EAEU and the SCO. Unlike the perplexed EU and the G7, whose members closed the borders with each other in the first weeks of the “coronavirus” crisis, they began to intercept supplies of protective masks and medical equipment from each other, the Eurasian Economic Union and the SCO acted in concert. The assistance of China (the world's largest manufacturer of medical equipment of mass demand) to the whole world and, first of all, to the EAEU countries is a notable phenomenon of the world today, which has received powerful reflection in the media. However, the West, unlike the EAEU, perceives the assistance offered by China not so much with gratitude, but with envy and anger. Hence the complaints of the EU and the USA about the Chinese "propaganda by action" and the calls of the US president to investigate the alleged role of China in the emergence and spread of coronavirus.

The EAEU does not experience the complex characteristic of today's West in front of China. We are grateful to China for the help and respectful to our neighbor, who, in turn, was sympathetic to the timely (earlier than many Western countries) closure of the borders with China by the EAEU member countries. According to RIA Novosti, the exchange of assistance turned out to be mutually beneficial: 170 countries helped China during the difficult first weeks of the crisis, and then China helped dozens of states, primarily members of the SCO and Italy.

And the Eurasian Union itself is trying to fight the pandemic collectively, and also offers coordinated approaches to combating the inevitable economic consequences of the outbreak of coronavirus. Countries are trying to ensure that the anti-crisis measures of each country do not harm the EAEU partners. For example, a recent decision of the Russian government to stop the export of wheat, rye, barley and corn from Russia before July 1 to ensure stability in the domestic market for these products was made with the caveat: export stops only outside the EAEU. Russia leaves for itself and for its four privileged partners - Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan - opportunities for mutual assistance and for the usual exchange of agricultural products.

There is no doubt that after the coronavirus pandemic, competition for influence on Central Asia will erupt with renewed vigor. The United States, the European Union, and Japan — each of these countries offers the states of the region the “one plus five” formula (where one is a member of the rich western G-7, and five are supposedly “growing above themselves” young independent states of Central Asia). In response, Russia, in the words of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, has already begun work with Central Asia according to the “five plus one” formula. Where five are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, respected by us, recognized as equal partners, and one is Russia, which offers the whole five cooperation within the framework of well-established mutually beneficial organizations - the SCO, EAEU, CSTO.

This explanation came from the lips of Lavrov during his conversation with members of the Club for Supporting Public Diplomacy named after A.M. Gorchakova in Moscow, April 21, 2020. The part of the conversation that concerned the EAEU deserves a separate quote - the minister explained the essence of the Russian “anti-confrontation” approach to cooperation with Central Asia. Answering the question of the Kyrgyz participant in the virtual round table about the “disappointment” of part of the Kyrgyz society in the EAEU, Lavrov recalled that it was the EAEU that “legalized the activities of Kyrgyz labor migrants and allows them to benefit from the free movement of labor resources on an absolutely solid legal basis.”

“We have provided significant assistance to Kyrgyzstan in creating the infrastructure necessary to ensure the free movement of goods, capital, services and labor, we regularly support this country, including assisting in maintaining the country's budget. There is no limit to perfection. But if an opinion is spreading in Kyrgyzstan that something needs to be changed, I do not exclude that this is a reflection of the competitive process, competition for Central Asia, which our Western colleagues have actively joined,” the Russian minister said.

Lavrov also mentioned the gloating with which the US and the EU speak of the allegedly impending collapse of the Chinese Belt and Road initiative. Western partners indicate that the initiative will fade due to the impossibility of an early pandemic for the repayment of loans issued by China to its partners - from Kazakhstan to Africa. Lavrov called this approach counterproductive.

“We believe that such competition is counterproductive. It is much better to cooperate in order to help the Central Asian countries, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, which are especially in need, help develop the economy and create stability in the national economy. We are ready for this. Unfortunately, our Western colleagues are not ready. When the EU put forward its Central Asian strategy, it did not even mention the SCO, the EAEU, or the CIS - structures in which the Central Asian countries are somehow involved. They were mentioned tangentially as a warning - that you need to watch out for the EAEU, SCO, CSTO, etc. did not interfere much with the EU's work with Central Asia. In the same way as the Eastern Partnership program for the Transcaucasian and European countries in the CIS, which the EU put forward, was aimed at competition, at containing Russia in the respective territories”, Lavrov said.