Press Statement of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev after Meeting of Eurasian Economic Community Interstate Council

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Ladies and gentlemen, media representatives,

My colleagues have informed you about what happened here today. This is indeed a very significant event, a long-awaited one, and the product of some very difficult negotiations. But I would especially like to point out that, despite all the difficulties that we have encountered in this process, we have now reached a new stage of cooperation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community.

The negotiations were long. The President of Kazakhstan recalled our meetings 15 years ago, when the idea was first formulated. I suppose this is not all that long ago when seen from a historical perspective. As you know, the European Union was a long time in the making, and required efforts to effect its integration over an extended period. As everybody knows, it began life as the European Coal and Steel Community and finally became a full-fledged European Union, with not only a common customs area and a single economic territory but a monetary union as well. In this regard, we are proceeding at a decent pace, but this doesn't mean there haven't been difficult moments. Yesterday our deputy prime ministers argued themselves hoarse, so today we didn't have that much to do. In talks in restricted format we hashed things out and came to an agreement. I think this is a singular achievement and I would like to express my sincere thanks to my colleagues around the table.

Today's decisions really do mark a milestone: as a result of them there will be a Customs Union, in any event a union of the Eurasian Economic Community troika [Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan], that will come into existence on January 1, 2010. And this really will result in a completely new freedom of movement for goods, services, capital and labour. Naturally we don't need a Customs Union simply to ensure the consistency of customs tariffs. Of course they are very important, but it is even more important that we use the development of the Customs Union to prepare for the transition to a common economic space. This will represent a fundamentally new form of integration for our economies.

We have agreed to intensify our efforts in all areas and agreed that in the coming months, in even less than a month, a plan should be prepared. Based on this plan, we will determine how quickly we can create the final legal basis for a common economic space, taking into account the work that has been done in recent years, and our desire to finalise this as quickly as possible. In this case, we have agreed that we will try to work as hard as we can, and that we will instruct our negotiators; we have agreed to meet in Kazakhstan to finally decide how quickly we can get all this done.

On all these things we are pretty much agreed. In any event, it is in all our interests that this work be completed in the shortest possible time. But I should emphasise once again that the documents that have to be prepared and the political and economic decisions that have to be made are at any rate of the utmost importance for Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

A Customs Code and a common customs tariff really will create a single set of customs-tariff regulations in the space of the EurAsEC troika.

Mr Lukashenko made reference here to the events that took place in the Bialowieza Forest, without referring to various assessments that were made [the Belavezha Accords of 1991 dissolved the USSR and established the CIS]. These events have rather different goals. If in the framework of the decisions that were signed in the Bialowieza Forest, there were in fact new nations created, or a new international legal entity came into existence, then what we have achieved here in Minsk today means a number of things from a legal point of view, from an international legal point of view.

First, the emergence of a real Customs Union and common principles of regulation. This is actually a very important thing: for the first time in recent years, we have agreed to allocate some of our national sovereignty to supranational bodies. This supranational body will now decide on the customs tariff - that is very important.

We reviewed a number of organisational issues, about which my colleagues have already spoken. We agreed to many important solutions to specific problems, and the specific interests of our countries, the specific interests of all the member states of the EurAsEC, are bound up with these solutions.

Once again I would like to express solidarity with my colleagues and say that, despite the fact that now the documents have been signed by three states, we expect that in the future other countries represented here in this room will be joining. We have agreed to contribute fully to this process.

We talked today about the problems associated with the current economic situation. Perhaps these discussions were not as detailed as they were in other forums and other formats, but it is clear that we have all been affected by the financial crisis. In the last few years I think we have made a number of very important decisions, including the establishment of an Anti-Crisis Fund. The Anti-Crisis Fund is already up and running: every country has ratified the relevant documents. Russia will soon be contributing its share to the Fund. We expect that our finance ministers will be meeting before the end of the year, and that the work of this institution will begin in earnest. There have already been some applications. They will be reviewed, and the nations that have made these requests will receive the first instalments of the money they asked for.

We have signed a Protocol on a Common Insurance Market and the Statue on Principles of Cooperation between member countries of the EurAsEC, in order to maintain the regime governing our external borders and the many other instruments that provide economic stability in our integrated space. In this regard, I absolutely agree with what the President of Kyrgyzstan said about the effectiveness of our work in the EurAsEC. Not to mince words, in the post-Soviet era the EurAsEC is practically the only structure that has moved quickly in its attempts to effect integration, and we will do everything we can to facilitate this.

I should also say that, as everybody knows, next year our organisation will be 10 years old, and perhaps what we have done here today, what my colleagues have been talking about, is the best gift we could give on this occasion.

I would like to thank my colleagues again for their constructive work in these friendly discussions. No doubt they will continue. But we set ourselves a very important goal, to provide a comfortable, stable life for the citizens of our countries. And the common economic space and the Eurasian Economic Community will do everything they can to promote this.


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