More than one year has passed since the treaty on the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) entered into the force. What are the work outcomes and prospects of the Eurasian Union? These were the key questions raised on the EAEU-2016 international Forum which was held on 26 October 2016 in Chelyabinsk. The representatives of the Union Republics, business community, experts and journalists took part in the event.
The event programme included discussions on ‘politics’, ‘economy’ and ‘security’ issues, within the framework of which the questions concerning the place and role of integration union in the modern world were considered and the results of the EAEU’s work in 2016 were summed up.
It was noted at the very beginning of the meeting that it is necessary to expand the number of dialogue platforms. ‘It is highly important to maintain a continuous dialogue between countries which are parts to the EAEU, and it has to be a frank and an honest dialogue’, – the Deputy Head of the Department of the Presidential Administration of Russian Federation for Interregional Relations and Cultural Contacts with Foreign Countries Vlasov Alexey Viktorovich explained.
This topic is relevant and important as we may now observe various attempts to isolate Russia from the West. Furthermore, instability zones are being created on purpose around EAEU, such as conflicts in Ukraine, Afghanistan, sponsoring of ISIL within EAEU in order to create ‘sleeper cells’, which may be activated at the right moment to create an instability zone.
In this regard, according to the RA National Assembly deputy Babuhanian Aik Borisovich, Turkey, being the main operator of the Western world, is one of the main threats to the Eurasian integration. Turkey is being supported by Azerbaijan, which acts as a vehicle for Turkey’s policy. ‘It is essential to create EAEU political institutions, institutions of media cooperation and people’s diplomacy in order to withstand contemporary challenges’ – the expert says.
Furthermore we may observe the colonization of Belarus through the idea of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth history. This concern was raised by the professor of political science of the Institute of Parliamentarism and Entrepreneurship of the Republic of Belarus Malishevsky Nikolai Nikolaevich, who also noted the increase in Polish-Belarusian relationships.
Moreover, local contradictions between countries prevent the integration within Eurasian area. Thus, Azerbaijan and Armenia have historical contradictions in Nagorny Karabakh, Georgia does not join alliances with countries, which recognize the independence of Ossetia, Tadzhikistan does not join any alliances except for the UN, and accession of Uzbekistan to WTO prevents its accession to Customs Union and EAEU.
A specific destabilizing role in these processes is played by some states. USA, for example, implement economic policy within Central Asia in order to restrain Russia and China.
In this connection, serious steps must be taken to strengthen the integration. This may be achieved with the help of advocacy. Participants of the discussion concluded that Russian channels may become an amplifier of the EAEU’s role within post-Soviet region.
Cooperation on socio-cultural level is also very important. The role of socio-cultural cooperation as the necessary and binding factor of sustainability and expansion of the EAEU was discussed by CEO of the Center for Eurasian Cooperation and Development (CESIR), Olga Valeryevna Biryikova. According to her, it is necessary to increase the number of youth events of educational character. ‘An encouraging example of this would be international tourist-educational routes for children “Experience Russia”, which are based on joint completion of educational and tourist programmes by Russian and foreign children, which apparently will facilitate convergence of our nations in strategic outlook’ – Olga Valeryevna explained.
Summing up the meeting, we may say that as of today the Eurasian integration is being threatened by instability and disunity. Almost all participants of the meeting noted that it is impossible to increase EAEU’s economic integration without maintaining political dialogue and socio-cultural cooperation. In this regard, the Union’s members have great opportunities for strengthening the integration through inclusion of younger generations to that process, through active cooperation at socio-cultural level, through increasing the number of business communication platforms and creation of EAEU’s own information field and political institutions. Shortly after the event an initiative of establishment of the EEC Social Council, that will withstand contemporary challenges, was introduced.
Text: Anna Maksimova