TOGETHER WE MUST

Kazakhstan 2015 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, on the benefits of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

Vladimir Putin
BIOGRAPHY
Vladimir Putin was born in 1952 in St. Petersburg. After graduating from Leningrad State University, he began his career in the KGB as an intelligence officer in 1975. He rose to the top ranks of the Russian government after joining President Boris Yeltsin’s administration in 1998, becoming Prime Minister in 1999 before taking over as President. He was again appointed Russian Prime Minister in 2008, and earned re-election to the Presidency in 2012.

The Treaty on the EEU will bring Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus to a completely new level of integration, and provide for closer and better-coordinated economic cooperation while fully retaining their national sovereignty. It is very symbolic that we signed the treaty in the capital of Kazakhstan, because Nursultan Nazarbayev stood at the origins of this idea; he was the first to mention it when speaking at the Moscow State University, as I remember, in 1994. Together, we are creating a powerful and attractive economic development center, and a major regional market uniting over 170 million people. Our Union has immense natural resources, including energy resources. It accounts for 20% of global natural gas reserves and 15% of the world's oil reserves. At the same time, the three states have developed industrial bases, vast labor resources, and powerful intellectual and cultural potential. Our geographic location makes it possible to create transportation and logistics routes of not only regional, but also global significance and attract large-scale trade from Europe and Asia. All this is the basis for the competitiveness of our union and for its dynamic development in this rapidly changing and complicated world. I would like to stress that the EEU will operate based on universal, transparent, and clear principles. This includes the norms and principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO). I would also like to stress that this is the result of our joint efforts, based on the close interaction between the governments of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. As you may know, this process was launched in 1994, when President Nazarbayev first broached this idea at the Moscow State University. It was then developed at a variable pace. In 2009, the President of Kazakhstan yet again gave the idea additional impetus, and we agreed to intensify our efforts in this direction. The Treaty we signed is a truly historical milestone that opens up broad prospects for the development of our economies and improving the well being of our countries' citizens. Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are moving toward a completely new level of cooperation by creating a common space where goods, services, capital, and workforce can move freely. We are essentially creating the largest common market in CIS territory, with enormous production, research, and technological potential and huge natural resources. It is not surprising that other major economies are already showing direct interest in this union. Wherever I go, and whomever I meet with, everyone wants to know how to establish relations with the new Eurasian Union. A new economic organization has appeared in the international arena, one that has full juridical personality and acts based on the principles of the WTO. Still, it is important that the transfer of certain authority to supranational agencies of the union is of no detriment to the sovereignty of our states. Mutual benefit from integration has already been demonstrated in practice. The economic ties between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are expanding, their trade structure is improving, the share of high-tech goods in the overall trade structure is increasing, and our countries are becoming ever more economically competitive in the world. Over the past three years, trade turnover within the Customs Union has gone up by 50%—that is by $23 billion. Belarus and Kazakhstan together come in third in the overall trade balance of the Russian Federation after the EU and China. Special attention is given to improving the business climate. Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan all intend to stimulate responsible competition in the union's market. At the same time, we will efficiently protect the interests of the consumers and the businesses of member states. For the future, we have set for ourselves the goal of creating a common financial market. The absence of barriers to the flow of capital will make it possible to diversify risks and improve the quality, accessibility, and reliability of financial services. Stage-by-stage harmonization of the currency policy will serve to enhance the stability of the financial systems of the union member states, and will make the national money markets more predictable and better protected from exchange rate fluctuations, and will enhance our sovereignty as well. The citizens of our countries should be able to fully assess the benefits of Eurasian integration. They will receive the right to work freely in the three states without having to obtain any work permits. Of course, we touched upon the issue of expanding membership in the Eurasian Union, and we have considered the draft treaty with Armenia. This document should be approved and signed shortly. Armenia would like to have this done in June. Overall, we all agreed. We expect that shortly after the union is set up, Armenia will become a fully fledged member. We also discussed the prospects for other partners joining the union, primarily Kyrgyzstan. I am convinced that through joint efforts we will be able to create favorable conditions for the development of our economies in order to maintain stability, security, and prosperity in Eurasia.