Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russia-Belarus Union and State Duma (Russia's lower chamber of parliament) speaker Gennady Seleznyov believes that 2002 will be a historic year for the creation of the union state. When appearing at a RIA Novosti press conference, he said that the greatest efforts were being made so that a constitution could be adopted next year and elections to a union parliament held in 2003. Seleznyov is confident that national bodies, the role and functions of which would be classified in Russia's constitution, will be set up next year. The speaker stressed that the heads of both countries' ministries had to understand that the two presidents had the political will to create the state. Having pointed out that there were some figures in the economic bloc of the Russian government that did not believe that the state would be created, Seleznyov stated that a working group needed to be organised to control how decisions adopted by union bodies were implemented. The State Duma speaker praised the efforts towards further integration made by the nations' central banks, frontier services and defence ministries. However, Seleznyov was not satisfied with the work of the customs committees, as disputed issues in customs policies remain unresolved. When talking about opposition to the union state, Seleznyov said that in both Russia and Belarus it was now more "restrained and moderate."
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