Meetings of the leaders of state and concerts of the masters of arts are being held in Moscow and Minsk, to mark the Day of Unity of the peoples of Russia and Belarus. 14 years ago, on April 2nd, 1996, the two presidents, Boris Yeltsin and Alexander Lukashenko, signed the Treaty on the Formation of the Community of Russia and Belarus. And one year later the Treaty on a Union Between Russia and Belarus was signed. It gave a boost to the process of comprehensive integration, which led to the establishment of a Union State of Russia and Belarus in 1999.
Despite the 14-year-long process of the official unification of Russia and Belarus and the many centuries-old history of the blood relationship of the peoples of Russia and Belarus, it is only with great reserve today that we can say that the two states are really close and united. In recent times the Belarusian leader has made numerous statements to blame the Russian leadership for its "imperial ambitions", meaning that hampers the development of trade and economic contacts between the two states. And it was exactly the day before the current festivities that Alexander Lukashenko urged the people in Belarus to start searching for new sales markets. Russia is not the only one - the world is large enough, as he said.
As it appears, Moscow is not going to take such attacks seriously: it has already got accustomed to the eloquence of the Belarusian President. Despite the continued quarrels, the unification process is going on, and there're direct proofs of this, the Deputy Director of the Institute of the CIS Countries Vladimir Zharikhin says:
"Problems emerge even in a very strong family, and sometimes its neighbours can hear some noise coming from a nearby flat. This is no surprise at all. Each of the two cooperating sides has its own interests, which do not always coincide. And there's no need to present natural differences, which are finally resolved - let it be in the course of intensive but fruitful talks - as if it were the end of the Russia-Belarus union. The main thing is that we are gradually advancing to build a Union State, simplifying the relationships between the two countries' economies. And the Customs Union offers proof".
By the way, it is exactly the transition to the interaction within the framework of the Customs Union that is the guarantee of strengthening unity between Russia and Belarus, the General Director of the Centre for the Post - Soviet States Studies Alexei Vlasov says:
"The main vector of interaction between Russia and Belarus is now shifted to the sphere of the Customs Union and projects under the EurAsEá (Eurasian Economic Community) auspices. Which means that the economy, as it should be at the initial stage, is turning into a fundamental basis for bilateral relations. The project for the unification of the two fraternal peoples of Russia and Belarus was actually the first integration project after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But the builders began their work with the roof, not with the foundation. And the Customs Union means that an effort has been made to lay the foundation. And I think that this will help us create a good infrastructure for our common home, which is based on mutual aspirations for friendship and cooperation".
Experts say that after the disappearance of the customs borders, there will emerge a chance not only to unite the potential of the two states at the macro-economic level. The Union creates conditions for a joint competition of small and middle businesses on exterior markets. And all these will be the fruits the ordinary people, not the leaders of the countries, who incessantly quarrel and then meet to shake each other's hands, will feel. And it is exactly for ordinary people that this integration was planned.