Integration Processes in CIS and EAEU: Outcome of Meeting in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan hosted sessions of the CIS Council of Heads of Government and the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council, attended by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency has held a Moscow-Astana videoconference entitled "Integration processes in the CIS and the EAEU: outcomes of the meeting of heads of government". Recently Kazakhstan hosted sessions of the CIS Council of Heads of Government and the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council, attended by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The CIS Council of Heads of Government considered a wide range of topics of the Commonwealth, including cooperation in the financial and economic sector, enforcement of transportation security, interregional and cross-border cooperation until 2020.

The agenda of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council consisted of about 20 topics, including mutual trade and growth of trade turnover between countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, the key courses of economic development of the EAEU, intensification of cooperation in macroeconomic and currency and financial policy, means of encouraging exports, perfection of customs procedures in the EAEU.

The participants of the meeting summarized the sessions of heads of government, discussed the role of Russia and Kazakhstan in deepening the integration processes within the framework of the CIS and the EAEU, prospects of cooperation between the EAEU and BRICS states, as well as bilateral Russia-Kazakhstan cooperation in a wide range of issues.

Sergei Mikheyev, Director General of the Institute for Caspian Cooperation, Political Analyst, Expert of the Valdai Discussion Club, was one of the participants of the conference. He reminded that the decision to create the EAEU had been made in Astana on May 29, 2014, within the framework of the trilateral meeting of the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. The year of work enables a certain roundup: Armenia joined the EAEU; Kyrgyzstan signed the treaty of accession on May 29, 2015, to join the EAEU, which has already been ratified by the parliament of Kyrgyzstan. The countries of the Union signed numerous treaties in the fields of defense, commerce and economics, humanitarian cooperation and ecology.

One of the highlights was the treaty signed by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus with Vietnam. It is an essential step in diversifying commercial and economic ties. The EAEU ascends from intensive collaboration within the framework of the post-Soviet space to expansion of cooperation implicating countries beyond the CIS borders.

The expert said that the frontiers of the EAEU had practically been expanded to 6 countries, the trade turnover within the framework of the Union is about to hit a whopping figure of $4 billion. With Vietnam's engagement, the figure may skyrocket to $10-12 billion in 2 years.

The EAEU is still behind the level of the European Union or the G7, but the Eurasian Economic Union is not a political platform, it is not a club; the goal of the EAEU is to implement cooperation in the economic sector.   

Sergey Mikheyev also noted that China had come up with an economic programme of the New Silk Road. Some experts believe that interests of two states may collide at this point, others opine that the development vector is multidirectional, taking interests of China and EAEU states into account.

The meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Government and the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council has proven that the Union lives. Speculations that it is a wanton and pointless initiative that will soon die out have been proven inconsistent. The recent meetings were dedicated to real debates about the path towards integration, and the countries attending them have demonstrated that it is not a momentary conjuncture, it is a conscious strategic choice.   

The expert emphasized that accession of Vietnam to the free trade zone means that the EAEU is not a reincarnation of the USSR many label it to be.

Obviously, the accession of Vietnam has opened a new page in the project. No one is trying to recreate the USSR anew. The EAEU is a more promising and interesting project, accusations of ideological bias have not been proven.   

Sergey Mikheyev assumes that Vietnam's example may open doors for other countries. Speaking of the West and Europe, in particular, they will have to reckon with the fact that the Eurasian Economic Union exists. Experts say that European business is making plans to engage in this market one way or another, considering its largeness and the prospects it offers.

The political analyst gave insight into the future of the CIS. In particular, he noted that Nursultan Nazarbayev believed that the CIS was still a promising form of cooperation, for example, with account of the economic factor, despite all its problems. The CIS does have a future. Of course, the CIS will not retain the format outlined in 1991, but it may be a durable structure in some other form. Its new name, manifestation and members will be determined through time.

The videoconference was also attended by Alexander Gusev, Head of the Center of Strategic Development of CIS Countries, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, and Yevgeny Khon, Research Associate of the Economic Research Department, Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.