The heads of state of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member countries are meeting in Astana today. The meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council is attended by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, as well as the presidents of Armenia and Kyrgyzstan Serzh Sargsyan and Almazbek Atambayev.
It is reported that Vladimir Putin has already arrived in Astana.
The Russian Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov said that today the presidents of the EEU member countries will summarize the results of the EEU's work and define development objectives of the integration. According to him, the meeting is regular and the leaders do not plan to take any revolutionary decisions.
Earlier, the Kremlin press service reported that the meeting in Astana will discuss the issue of forming common markets of gas, oil and oil products. In addition, the leaders of the EEU member countries "will exchange their views on the expansion of trade and economic relations and association with other countries and regional integration organizations" and following the talks, the adaptation of a number of documents on the practical aspects of the EEU functioning is scheduled.
It is expected that on the basis of the EEU Council, a package of decisions which will allow to start the process of establishing a free trade area between Vietnam and the EEU will also be adopted. "All the necessary procedures are completed only by Russia, Kazakhstan and Vietnam," Ushakov said, adding that they are working on the issue of creating free trade areas with India, Egypt and Iran.
The leaders are expected to issue an instruction to the Eurasian Economic Commission to sign a joint statement with China on the beginning of negotiations on a trade-and-economic cooperation agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and China. The agenda, according to Ushakov, will include coupling of the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative.
It is expected that the development of relations between the EEU and the European Union will be discussed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, where Vladimir Putin will hold a meeting with the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
The director of the EurAsEC Institute, a member of the Zinoviev Club of ‘Rossiya Segodnya’, Vladimir Lepekhin, said, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, that the heads of the EEU countries are meeting in difficult times. "The economic union's plans were not implemented. The economic sanctions against Russia caused economic problems in Kazakhstan, Belarus and so on. On the other hand, a common problem brings us closer," the expert pointed out.
According to him, at the moment there is an understanding between the EEU member states on how to move forward within the Union. "They realize they should move forward together, not only in economics but also in politics. It applies not only to Russia, but, for example, to Armenia, which is the conflict with Azerbaijan, and to other EEU members. For example, the West is trying push people to oppose the authorities in Kazakhstan. Similar programs are being implemented in Belarus either," Vladimir Lepekhin said.
Today, the EEU is actively looking for new members, for direct ones as Tajikistan, and in the priority cooperation format as Vietnam and Iran. At the same time, the current members need to "solve their economic problems, trying not to quarrel with each other," the expert drew attention to the Union's priority objective.
"The settlement of these problems should be implemented according to the formula of mutual support. The currency depreciation, budget problems are relevant to all the countries now. For example, there are problems with investments in joint projects in Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, they need to focus on those problems that have arisen in connection with the global situation," Vladimir Lepekhin concluded.