Russian and Belarussian presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko have finally found “solutions to all the issues.” The main priority of the integration between Russia and Belarus is the creation of the joint economic sphere, which is meant to become “the base of the unified state.” This about the establishment of s joint system of transportation, a joint market of services, regional economic cooperation, etc.
Vladimir Putin believes that the course for establishing the unified state was set correctly and timely. Putin also thinks that there are many aspects to deal with on the way to bilateral integration, as “the process is rather subtle and complicated.”
The headline of this article is a good reflection of the spirit and sentiments at the latest session of the Supreme Council of Russia and Belarus, which took place on April 12. It is evident for the time being that the union between Russia and Belarus is the most viable inter-state association on the territory of the former Soviet Union. It is becoming only stronger with each year, and it will surely not repeat the fate of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which only exists on paper. Putin stated that the people of Russia and Belarus were feeling the positive results of the integration between the two countries, especially when it comes to joint rights and social guarantees for the citizens ofthe two countries.
The joint statement that was singed by Putin and Lukashenko mentions the further development of integration. One of the basic goals at the present moment is the further harmonization of Russian and Belarussian laws. Furthermore, there was a decision made about creating joint commercial, customs, and tariff policies regarding third countries, international organizations, and other associations. Moscow and Minsk will have a single position regarding the subject of joining the World Trade Organization. “The situation is changing quickly in the world, and we have to create coordinated actions for the future,” – President Lukashenko believes.
There will be equal conditions created for both Russian and Belarussian enterprises. This means equal taxes and customs fees. The tariffs on energy supplies and railway transportation will also be unified. From May 1, the cost of Russian gas and electric power in Belarus will be the same, as it is in Russia. This year, Russia is to deliver 16.5 billion cubic meters of gas and 5.5 billion kwh of electric power. Lukashenko’s order, which deprives Belarussian enterprises of several customs and fiscal privileges, will also come into effect on May 1.
In general, the major principle of the unified state is a step-by-step approach. Vladimir Putin says that he sometimes hears reproaches regarding the drawbacks in the insufficient pace of the integration: “Indeed, we cannot make everything happen on scheduled time, but I am certain that there cannot be any other way to settle the issues of the construction of the state. You should not stop once you succeed; this is another matter, and we have a common position on that with President Lukashenko.”
Putin and Lukashenko will next meet in September. The presidents will check the course of the implementation of the decisions that they have already made and prepare a message to the parliamentary assembly of the unified state.
The referendum pertaining to the issue of uniting Russia and Belarus into a single state may take place this year. This was said by the state secretary of the union, Pavel Borodin. The union between Russia and Belarus is to become the base for reviving the post-Soviet sphere.
Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov