Ex-Soviet states eyeing Eurasian Union

In a move some might consider unusual given ongoing difficulties in the EU, three ex-Soviet states are prepared to sign an agreement today that would begin the first steps toward creating a Eurasian economic union.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Kazakhstan and Belarus counterparts Nursultan Nazarbayev and Alexander Lukashenko were to sign a declaration on further economic integration at a summit in Moscow, the Kremlin said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse.

“The declaration will set out the ultimate aim (of economic integration) as the creation of a Eurasian economic union,” it said.

The project, backed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, seeks to bring the former states of the USSR closer.

The three countries already have a customs union but the creation of the Eurasian Union – which would have its own executive body and oversee a single economic space – would mark a huge step further, according to the wire service.

The single economic space is due to come into force in 2012 alongside a Eurasian Economic Commission, a body that would apparently be run on lines similar to its Brussels-based EU equivalent.

“The commission – the first such in post-Soviet history – will be neutral in relation the countries involved and will gradually take on national powers,” the Kremlin added.

A date for the creation of Eurasian Union has not been formally set, but at least one news outlet quoted sources as saying that 2015 would be given as the target date.

The initial members would be Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia but any of the former 15 Soviet states would be welcome to join.

However, if history is any indication, the backers of the fledgling Eurasian Union may want to wait and see what happens in Western Europe before proceeding.

The European Union, an economic and political union formed in 1993, is currently reeling under a debt crisis among the 17 countries that share a common currency.

“Europe is in one of its toughest, perhaps the toughest hour since World War Two,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this week, adding that she feared Europe would fail if the euro failed.

The ongoing crisis has forced the bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, and raised fears about the survival of the 17-state currency zone.


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