Eurasian integration: from idea to materialization

April 29. Kazpravda. Moscow

By Vladimir KURYATOV

Eurasian integration: from idea to materializationDuring his visit to Russia, President Nursultan Nazarbayev lectured at the Moscow State Lomonosov University on the topic “From the idea of the Eurasian Union to new perspectives of Eurasian integration.”

Twenty years ago, March 29, 1994, at this very University, the Kazakh President first floated the idea of creating the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEC), which is materializing: Presidents of Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus are soon to sign the agreement on establishing the EAEC that will be launched on 1 January 2015.

At the University Nursultan Nazarbayev congratulated the faculty on the enormous changes that had taken place over the past decade there. He is deeply gratified, he added that 14 years ago an MSU branch was opened in Astana, where this year, a diploma will be given to its thousandth graduate. It is a momentous event!

He underscored that the Eurasian Union is possible solely on the principles of voluntary membership, equality, mutual benefit and consideration of each party’s pragmatic interests. This initiative started a new historical process, which is now called the Eurasian integration, – Nursultan Nazarbayev said.

– The concept of Eurasian integration has become a brand, actively used by politicians, economists, journalists and social circles. It is in the interests of ordinary citizens of Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and other countries of the Eurasian space. With this purpose in 1998, Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed the program “Ten simple steps towards ordinary people.” Over the years, almost all of its provisions have been implemented.

Joint border of the Customs Union states became transparent for its citizens to smoothly cross the border, carry the baggage, cargo, commodities, foreign currency. Since 2009, Kazakhstan’s sales with partners of the Eurasian Economic Space and Customs Union increased by 88% to make 24.2 billion dollars. Exports to Russia and Belarus went 63% up. We open joint ventures with Russian and Belarusian companies and have agreements on mutual recognition of diplomas on higher, secondary and vocational education, – the President stressed.

It is also important that every year thousands of citizens of Kazakhstanis, Russians and Byelorussians, as well as some other CIS members exercise equal rights to education, employment and medicare. Eurasian initiative has given dynamism to the integration processes in the CIS and influenced the international relations.

– It is symbolic that on the 20th anniversary of the idea of creating a Eurasian economic union, in Astana a historic agreement on the establishment of this integration association is to be signed.

– The Eurasian integration gives strategic advantage to us all on the eve of the Third Global Industrial Revolution. The current global instability is a crisis of not only the economy but also the international law, global politics that G8 and G20 are unable to handle. That is why Nazarbayev proposed a G-Global initiative in 2012, an interactive platform, involving 160 countries already.

He called integration the imperative of time, an important factor in counteracting various global risks, and the assertions of some experts and politicians that the Eurasian Economic Union is reanimation of the Soviet Union – groundless. Firstly, there is no institutional framework for the Soviet-type reintegration. The Soviet Union is gone irreversibly. Secondly, the post-Soviet nations have built their own statehoods, thirdly, the current system of property , social and economic structure of our societies have moved far ahead the Soviet archaic system . On this the troika leaders concur, – Nazarbayev asserted.

– The whole world is talking about the developments in Ukraine. It was second in the former Soviet Union in its industrial potential and had a lot more starting opportunities for sustainable self-development than any other former USSR republic. However, in two decades of independence, this country did little for the economy and people’s well-being, but indulged more in politics. That’s the main cause of the current crisis in Ukraine, he assumed. -We wish the fraternal Ukraine to regain stability, harmony and unity. In any case, relations with our countries would be beneficial to Ukraine, we should remember it.

Continuing the theme of integration, Nursultan Nazarbayev emphasized the enormous potential for breakthrough in innovation and accelerated development. EAEC should be based on the principles of economic pragmatism, responsibility, evolutionary development and openness.

We have no room for error in creating the Eurasian Economic Union, any misstep or flaw can ruin the integration process, depriving it of the support of business and millions of people , – Nazarbayev cautioned, urging the partner-states to define the strategy 15-20 years ahead at least.

– First of all it is important to understand that the main mission of the Eurasian Economic Union in the first half of the twenty-first century lies in two important respects. First, it is necesary to become one of the key economic macro-regions of the world, a new center of global innovation and attraction for transnational business.

– Secondly, the mission of the Eurasian integration is in leading each member-state to the ranks of world advanced nations, – said Nursultan Nazarbayev.

EAEC should not be a burden but a blessing to all the national economies.

Nazarbayev went on to list five strategic development objectives of the EAEC in the successive 15-20 years.

FIRST – formation of the baseline conditions for accelerated innovative technological breakthrough of national economies and the entire Eurasian integration space. It was proposed to develop and adopt a program for Eurasian innovation and technological cooperation throughout the year 2025.

SECOND – the territory of the Eurasian Economic Union must become a leading link of the entire Eurasian infrastructure.

It is important to work out and implement a number of projects. Nazarbayev suggested creation of a common Eurasian telecommunications network, building a high-speed railway line along the route Minsk – Moscow – Astana – Almaty, to upgrade the existing network of roads and railways, especially in the west leading to the emerging European, and in the east – to the Chinese transport systems.

THIRD – small and medium businesses should underpin the pan-Eurasian economy to enable a flexible response to all possible global economic challenges. The President believes it expedient to establish the Eurasian Agrarian Academy to integrate scientific and practical capacity of national agricultural branches. Cooperation in the agricultural sector would give a powerful impetus to the export of food, not creating competition between its producers.

FOURTH – EAEC regulatory and institutional tools, basing on solid principles, must at the same time be flexible enough to duly respond to any changes.

The structure and methods of the EAEC management bodies can not just replicate other integration structures. Innovative management models need be sought for it to protect it against bureaucracy and becoming a sinecure to unwanted officials.

FIFTH – deepening cultural and humanitarian ties between our peoples. It is essential to develop tourism, including historical and cultural, ecological and medical, foster spiritual and cultural diversity on the Eurasian space.

Summing up the lecture, the President stressed that integration is not a magic wand, working wonders. Time is best proof.

Rector of the Moscow State University Victor Sadovnichiy, flashing 20 years back, when Nursultan Nazarbayev proclaimed the idea of creating the Eurasian Union, said the idea is materializing and noted an exceptional role of Kazakhstan’s President in strengthening the integration process.

Then Nazarbayev responded to the questions of the audience, and at the end of the meeting the University rector presented him a commemorative diploma.