Mosaic of Migration

The Future of the Eurasian Union: Views of the EU Experts

December 20, 2014
Print

The Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) invited experts for a discussion “Opportunities and Challenges Within the Space of Eurasian Economic Integration” on December 4, 2014.

The coming 2015 will confirm an existence of a new geopolitical player[1] on post-Soviet continent. The 3+1 Eurasian union – [Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus + Armenia] – was brought into existence after the signing and ratification of the Agreement on Joining the Eurasian Economic Union[2].

Several important topics in the discussion among EAEC and EU experts.

  1. Is the EAEC a partnership to serve a specific purpose or a partnership held together under duress – this is the main subject of the debate presently.

 

We need to admit that failure crowned the parties’ attempts to convince each other that the Eurasian integration is underpinned solely by considerations of economically profitable integration and creation of a single market for goods, jobs and services whereas the Collective Security Treaty covers military and political cooperation signed in May 1992.

According to Mr. Meier-Klodt, special envoy for in the nearest future Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia at the German Foreign Office, the EU is expected to change its strategy in Central Asia as a response to the EAEC’s enlargement. Performing a reality check and viewing Kazakhstan as “an anchor of stability” in Central Asian region, Germany is going to be an important advocate of such approach.

Citing their president Nazarbaev’s message “Road to the Future”[3], Kazakhstan’s representatives reminded to the assembly “the years to come will be a period of global trials and tribulations”… which not “all of the countries” will be able to cope with. Kazakhstan’s objective is to demonstrate to its European partners that the country is an enviable partner and not a periphery of “other countries’ geopolitical interests”. Good relations with Russia is a vital element of Kazakhstan’s policy, although the nation “is prepared only for economic integration”, and if its independence is challenged, Kazakhstan will immediately quit the EAEC.

 

  1. The issues such as trade cooperation between the EU and EAEC did not cause much debate. A free trade treaty between the two unions is a remote prospect if for no other reason than that the Customs Union countries’ exports to the EU consist mostly of fuel and energy products and iron whereas imports from the EU include automobiles / tools, spare parts, and chemical products.

 

Given this balance of exports and imports, the EU should be the party most interested in the development of a free trade zone, however it is somewhat put off by technical and organizational issues, such as standardization of goods and quality of products.

The forces favoring the idea of a round-table talk between the EAEC and the EU, articulated yet in September 2014 by Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, are quite influential in the German society.

 

  1. New terms characterizing the Germans’ vision and understanding of the current situation in Russia continue to appear in the German political space. In addition to Putin-Empathizers [Putin-Versteher], the experts are beginning to apply the new term - Anti-Russiasmus, which describes the German political trend to deliberately depart from the values of the Eastern European policy and Russia as one of its components.

Professor Sandschneider, addressing such definitions in his closing remarks, emphasized, “the phrase Anti-Russiasmus, etymologically kindred to anti-americanism, has nothing in common with the antagonism against, and incomprehension of, the policy of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who violated the fundamental principles of international law and stability”. In addition, “understanding Putin is not equal to accepting what he does”.

Summing up: 1) The coming reality of the EAEC as a new geopolitical actor has caused much interest and anxiety among EU experts;

2) The key question about the “core” and spirit behind the EAEC and proportion between geopolitical and/or economic interests among its participants is an essential issue for Europeans and remains open for debate;

3) Transforming their policy towards Russia, the EU countries – in particular, Germany – are interested in building contacts with other EAEC nations;

4) Among EAEC nations preparing to join the WTO, Kazakhstan is the EU’s best partner, able to ensure the “encounter of interests” in this geopolitical space most optimally in the present circumstances.



[1] 29 мая 2014 г. был подписан договор о создании Евразийского экономического союза (ЕАЭС) на базе Таможенного союза. Он вступит в силу с 1 января 2015 г. В союз вошли Россия, Казахстан и Белоруссия.

[2] Парламент Армении почти единогласно проголосовал за интеграцию на пространстве ЕЭС, «за» высказались 103 депутата, против — 7депутатов от партии «Наследие», возглавляемой главой МИД Армении в отставке Раффи Ованнисяном.

[3] Полный текст послания «Нуры жол – путь в будущее» Президента Республики Казахстан Н. Назарбаева, http://www.akorda.kz/ru/page/page_218338_poslanie-glavy-gosudarstva-narodu-kazakhstana

 

Share this article

Current poll

In your opinion, what are the US long-term goals for Russia?

Poll conducted

  1. Korean Peninsula Crisis Has no Military Solution. How Can It Be Solved?
    Demilitarization of the region based on Russia-China "Dual Freeze" proposal  
     36 (35%)
    Restoring multilateral negotiation process without any preliminary conditions  
     27 (26%)
    While the situation benefits Kim Jong-un's and Trump's domestic agenda, there will be no solution  
     22 (21%)
    Armed conflict still cannot be avoided  
     12 (12%)
    Stonger deterrence on behalf of the U.S. through modernization of military infrastructure in the region  
     4 (4%)
    Toughening economic sanctions against North Korea  
     2 (2%)
 
For business
For researchers
For students