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7 Mar 2017

Belarus PM: Issues with Russia affect Belarus’ participation in EEU

MINSK, 7 March (BelTA) – The issues in the relations with Russia have an impact on Belarus’ participation in the integration processes in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Belarusian Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov said at a meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council in Bishkek on 7 March, BelTA has learned.

“We must note that the legal framework of the bilateral relations [with Russia] is not implemented properly. It was developed not independently but rather keeping in mind the multilateral agreements in the Eurasian Economic Union. The issues in the bilateral relations affect greatly our participation in the multilateral integration processes. We do not separate these two tracks, the bilateral and multilateral ones, because the issues in bilateral relations have a negative impact on the Eurasian integration,” Andrei Kobyakov stressed.

The prime minister noted that Belarus is deeply concerned over the unsettled gas and oil issues, the violation of the bilateral and multilateral agreements on the terms of the supply of energy sources and the lack of an adequate reaction from the Eurasian Economic Commission.

“When signing the EEU Treaty in May 2014, Belarus noted in its statement that it will fulfill in good faith its commitments assumed under the document provided that certain bilateral and trilateral agreements are reached on the removal of barriers, restrictions and exemptions in the trade in some types of goods and in the provision of certain kinds of services, first of all, in relation to energy resources, assembled products and other sensitive points,” Andrei Kobyakov said. He pointed out that the Eurasian integration has achieved no breakthrough success so far.

The Belarusian initiative to develop a mechanism for the functioning of the Eurasian Economic Union in a situation when one of the member states introduces market protection measures unilaterally with respect to the other EEU countries has not been implemented. “In the context of the counter sanctions that Russia introduced more than 2.5 years ago, we have so far not reached an agreement on the transit of goods to third countries, and this causes direct budget losses. We depend on export and the freedom of the transit of goods. This is quite a sensitive issue for us and our EEU partners. Now we are losing the precious time fighting against the restrictions and exemptions within the EEU. We are losing opportunities for pursuing a coordinated industrial policy. We have achieved no more than the hastily drafted import substitution programs that disregard the interests of the EEU member states,” Andrei Kobyakov said.

At the same time, he pointed out that the meeting in Bishkek will adopt decisions related to industrial assembly, production of parts for agricultural vehicles and equipment, and promotion of equipment exports. “I call for maximum efforts to implement these decisions,” the Belarusian prime minister noted.

The Belarusian head of government also emphasized the positive achievements of the integration in the EEU, including the expansion of the foreign economic ties of the EEU member states. “We work individually with every international partner bearing in mind our commitments in the EEU and the national interests. In late 2016, albeit somewhat late, we launched the common market of pharmaceutical products and medical goods that means equal access to the markets of pharmaceuticals. We will see what practical results these documents will bring to us,” Andrei Kobyakov said.

He also noted that he is “an ardent advocate of integration.” “Today we are facing a serious challenge. We cannot let our integration to reverse. We cannot let parishional, corporate and mercantile interests dominate our development. I hope that by overcoming these issues the union will only become stronger, and will remain so as time goes by,” Andrei Kobyakov stressed.

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