FROM THE IDEA OF THE EURASIAN UNION –
TO NEW PERSPECTIVES OF THE EURASIAN INTEGRATION
I congratulate the University staff on the tremendous changes that have taken place at the Moscow State University in recent decades. As an Honorary University Professor I am pleased with your scientific achievement, strengthening of positions in world science and education. I am deeply satisfied that 14 years ago Vladimir Putin supported my idea of establishing of Kazakhstan’s Branch of the Lomonosov Moscow State University in Astana.
This year Kazakhstan’s Branch in Astana will award the diploma to its thousandth graduate. This is a significant event! Today specialists with MSU diplomas work successfully in the economy, science and education, and in the public service of Kazakhstan. Therefore, I express my gratitude to all those who have participated in the formation of Kazakhstan’s Branch of the Lomonosov Moscow State University.
20 years ago in these walls of Moscow State University, I first proposed the idea of creating a new integration association – the Eurasian Economic Union.
Its concept was based on the truth equally close and understandable to all citizens of our countries. The common history, mutual economic attraction, close interconnection of cultures and closeness of human aspirations give our peoples a chance to build a new type of multilateral interstate relations.
I was and remain a firm supporter that the Eurasian Union is possible only on the principles of voluntariness, equality, mutual benefit and consideration of the pragmatic interests of each participating country. This initiative was the starting point for a new historical process, which is now known as Eurasian integration.
First, my idea was misunderstood and underestimated by the majority of the CIS politicians of that time. Nowadays, this idea is in wide demand in business circles as well as at the social and humanitarian level. Numerous joint platforms have arisen and are now working, fueling the Eurasian integration. These are the Eurasian Development Bank, the Eurasian Business Council, the Eurasian Media Forum, the Eurasian Association of Universities and many others.
The Gumilyov Eurasian National University was one of the first facilities that we discovered in Astana 18 years ago. Today it is the leading university in Central Asia. Lev N. Gumilyov is one of the foreseeable Russian intellectuals who foresaw the fate of the Eurasian path for Russia. This is also evidenced by the works of such outstanding thinkers as K. Leontiev, N. Danilevsky and many others. The same goes for history, geography, culture, and the economy of Russia. Today the notion of 'Eurasian integration' has become a brand that politicians, economists, journalists and public circles actively use.
Secondly, I especially would like to emphasize that the modern Eurasian initiative has never been separated from realities.
First of all, it always took into account that independence and political sovereignty are priority for all participating states of the integration process.
Concurrently, its essence was originally concluded in sincere concern for the interests of ordinary citizens of Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, as well as other countries of the Eurasian space. In 1998, I proposed the Program 'Ten Simple Steps Towards Ordinary People'. Over the years, almost all of its provisions have been implemented.
Joint borders between the states of the Customs Union have become transparent for unhindered crossing by citizens of our countries, goods transportation and currency funds. Since 2009, Kazakhstan's trade with partners in the Eurasian Economic Space and the Customs Union has been increased by 88 percent to $ 24.2 billion. Our exports to Russia and Belarus increased by 63 percent, including the export of processed goods increased in 2 times. We establish joint ventures with Russian and Belarusian campaigns. Our countries have agreements on mutual recognition of diplomas on higher, secondary and professional education.
Annually, tens of thousands of citizens of Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, as well as a number of other CIS countries, enjoy equal rights to study in the universities of our states, to find employment and receive emergency medical care. The facilities for conducting small and medium business by citizens of one state in the territory of other participating countries are expanding. Eurasian integration gives many advantages for the fruitful development of cultural and humanitarian ties and tourism. All these are concrete benefits for millions of people. Now it is nearly impossible to imagine that all of these aspects could not have happened.
Third, the Eurasian initiative changed the character and gave dynamism to the integration processes across the CIS area. Thus, the Collective Security Treaty Organization was founded. In 2000, the Eurasian Economic Community was established. In general, the activities of the Commonwealth of Independent States and its structural links became more concrete. Within its framework, there are almost 40 branch interstate bodies.
Fourthly, at the turn of the 20th and 21st cc. the Eurasian initiative had a serious impact on international relations as well as beyond the borders of its original geographical field. The basic Eurasian principles are applied in the creation and activities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. On the same pragmatic basis, a successful process of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building measures in Asia has been under its way for more than 20 years. In 2010 at the Astana Summit of the OSCE I proposed to begin work on the formation of common Continental platform for the security of Eurasia.
Based on the principles of trust, equality and mutual benefit, it could include both the European and Asian dimensions. This position was reflected in the OSCE Astana Declaration 'Towards the Security Community'.
Fifth, the Eurasian idea now, in the middle of the second decade of the 21st c., acquires real geo-economic and geopolitical outlines.
The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and the Eurasian Economic Commission work successfully. Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia use the Single Customs Code and coordinate their macroeconomic policies.
It is symbolic that in the year of the 20th anniversary of the idea of creating the Eurasian Economic Union in Astana, it is planned to sign a historic Treaty on this integration association’s creation. A number of other countries show their interest in participating in the Union's work. The Eurasian integration economic potential is very high.
The total volume of economies of only 3 member countries is 2.2 trillion dollars. The total output of industrial products of the three countries amounted to almost 1.5 trillion US dollars. The perspective integration effect in the form of an increase in aggregate GDP may amount to about $ 900 billion by 2030.
Thus, Eurasian integration provides us with a common strategic advantage on the eve of the forthcoming Third Global Industrial Revolution. It occurs in a dramatic act of changing the paradigm of the world order towards multi-polarity. The current global instability is not only the economic crisis but also the crisis of international law and global politics.
G-8 and G-20 cannot deal with it. Therefore, I initiated G-GLOBAL in 2012. 160 countries take an interactive part in it. G-GLOBAL includes fundamental principles of the world in the 21st c.: evolution; justice, equality, consensus; global tolerance and trust; global transparency; and constructive multi-polarity.
I believe that the current global challenge will be defeated in case of profound changes in international law, foreign policy practice, methods of interstate relations. Therefore, our proposals on G-GLOBAL principles are useful for the world community today more than ever. I am sure that they are capable of giving a constructive character to the development of the world. In general, today we see a huge positive role and definite results of the Eurasian integration process.
Further deepening of integration is not only new opportunities but also our common duty to the present and future generations of the citizens of our states.
Twenty years ago, I said that it was Kazakhstan and Russia that should form the core of the integration process leading to the Eurasian Economic Union creation. It is necessary to note Vladimir Putin’s crucial role of in the fact that at the beginning of the 21st c. the Eurasian integration received a new dynamics of development. In 2010 it was supported by Dmitry Medvedev.
Relations between Kazakhstan and Russia have always been and remain a model of partnership. Previous 2013 was a breakthrough for our countries. A unique Treaty on Good-Neighborliness and Alliance in the 21st c. was signed in Yekaterinburg.
Today there is practically no sphere, in which our countries would not interact on a trust basis. There is a process of industrial cooperation including interregional level. Energy partnership, cooperation in the space industry are making good headway, expanding cooperation in the cultural and humanitarian sphere. Russia is Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner.
Last year the trade turnover between our countries by the results of 2013 amounted to 24 billion dollars. This is a record figure in the history of our relations. It is largely due to the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space although last year was not easy for our economies. A bilateral Treaty on military-technical cooperation was signed at the end of the previous year. There is a unified air defense system. We closely cooperate with Russia within the framework of international organizations on the issues of regional security. Trust, equality, mutually beneficial cooperation and alliance are the common values of Kazakhstanis and Russians, which we are obligated to pass on from generation to generation.
The global financial and economic crisis, from which the world has still not fully recovered, has accelerated the regionalization process in various areas of the planet.
It occurs in North and South America, South-East Asia, the Persian Gulf sub-region and the Arab-Muslim world, Australia and Oceania, West Africa. We see how large regional systems are being formed with common algorithms of interstate economic and financial relations.
Obviously, in the 21st c., regional integration has become an important factor in counteracting various global risks. Presently, in the current conditions of globalization it is the fundamental question of economic and civilizational development of the states to increase their global competitiveness.
Today, some experts and politicians who discuss the Eurasian economic union are frightening the global community with some mythical “reincarnation” of the Soviet Union. I think such discussions are far from reality and groundless.
First, today there is simply no institutional base for the Soviet-style reintegration. That era has definitively and irrevocably gone to the pages of history.
Secondly, the post-Soviet nations have built their own statehood.
Thirdly, the current system of property, social structures, and economic realities of our societies has come far away from archaic Soviet thinking.
In this issue, we are unanimous with the leadership of Russia and Belarus. Besides, it is not difficult to see that there are several ongoing regional integration projects in the world today. But none of them causes such controversial assessments as the emerging Eurasian Economic Union.
Frankly, in such negative assessments, I see, on the one hand, attempts to camouflage concerns that the Eurasian Economic Union has the potential to become quite a strong competitor to other centers of global economic gravity.
In fact, speaking the language of law, we are talking about the methods of unfair competition on a global scale already at the stage of the formation of our new integration association. Why do not they talk about the great prospects for rapprochement between the European and Eurasian economic unions? After all, the benefits are obvious to everyone.
On the other hand, the flurry of nonsense merely underlines the potential and prospects of the idea of Eurasian integration. Twenty years ago, when I proposed the project of the Eurasian Union, I foresaw that economic pragmatics would determine its success.
I have always been and remain a sincere supporter of the well-known formula – "Economy first, then politics". This principle is comprehensive, extending to both domestic and foreign policy of our country. This approach ensured consistency in all spheres of Kazakhstan's development, i.e. from economic reforms to building pragmatic relations with partners in the international arena.
From the first day of gaining Independence, our country has been developing without zigzags and backward movements, without social upheavals and internal conflicts. We will always remain a worthy partner; we do not change our foreign policy priorities like the weathervane.
To be frank, many CIS countries failed to build the same comprehensive policy to achieve the same stable development. Today, when the whole world talks about Ukraine, I cannot ignore this issue. You know that I studied in Ukraine, and I cannot be indifferent to the destiny of the Ukrainian people.
I perceive the upheavals that have occurred in this country with a heavy heart. Ukraine was the second in the former Soviet Union in terms of its industrial potential and industrial base. It had much more starting opportunities for its confident independent development than all other republics. However, over the two decades since gaining its independence, in this country there has been little attention given to the economy and welfare of ordinary people, and there was too much focus on politics.
I believe therein lies the main reason for the current crisis in Ukraine. We wish the early restoration of stability, harmony and unity to the brotherly Ukrainian people. In any case, Ukraine benefits from relations with our countries. It is necessary to remember this.
I am convinced that the participation of states in the integration process should serve as an incentive for the industrialization of national economies, providing people with jobs, creating favorable conditions for business development. The integration will be considered only as successful if it ensures the growth of the well-being of nations, gives people new opportunities for honest and fair work, first, in their own country, and not somewhere for pennies and far away in a foreign land.
The issues of economy and welfare of citizens are of priority in terms of Kazakhstan’s participation in Eurasian integration. In the future Eurasian Economic Union, we see huge opportunities for innovative breakthrough and accelerated development of our country.
As you know, Kazakhstan has been implementing a new Strategy for long-term development until 2050. Since we have implemented the outcomes of the “Kazakhstan – 2030” Strategy ahead of schedule, we set a new goal to ourselves, which is to become one of the 30 most developed countries in the world by the middle of the XXI century. We intend to achieve this goal as a sovereign and worthy part of the common Eurasian geo-economic space.
I encourage our partners in the Eurasian Economic Union to set a high standard that is to enter the top three leaders of the world’s integration associations by 2050. Here the role of the Russian economy is very important.
Therefore, the development of our consolidation should be based on the principles of economic pragmatism; responsibility; evolutionary development and openness of the Eurasian Economic Union. Kazakhstan starts the way to a new peak with a high start.
Last year we took the 50th place in the Global Competitiveness Index. According to the Ease of doing business Index we have taken the 50th place and this indicator is improving. At year-end 2013, Kazakhstan’s GDP grew by 6 per cent.
The aggregate international reserves of the country have already amounted to about 100 billion dollars. Distinct and modernizing tasks have been set and are being implemented in Kazakhstan. First, this is forced industrialization of the economy. During 4 years within its framework, 780 new enterprises have been built; more than 250 new types of products have been mastered.
Nowadays 111 countries of the world buy manufactured goods of Kazakhstan’s enterprises. We annually commission the hundreds of new innovative enterprises, including the projects in the field of electricity, energy conservation and 'green technologies'. We have been the first country in the CIS to adopt the 'Green Economy' Development Strategy. We are developing such innovative clusters as the deep processing of oil and gas raw materials, petroleum chemistry and tourism.
The basis for the new economic branches, which had never before existed in Kazakhstan, was laid; they are automobile and aircraft construction, locomotives and railcars production, earth satellites production, electronics etc. The agricultural sector is developing dynamically as one of the regional centers of food production.
In 2015 the construction of the transport corridor 'Western Europe - Western China' will have been completed – it is 2700 kilometers that pass through our territory and are also being built in Russia and Belarus. Together with our neighbors, we have built the new railway lines with access to China and South East Asia, now we are completing the construction of a railway to Iran and the Persian Gulf countries.
Important changes are being realized in the education sphere. Nearly 20 thousand of Kazakhstan’s young people study in the leading universities around the world. 10 thousand of graduates of the best international universities are already working for our economy, civil service, manufacturing, at schools, universities and hospitals.
A new world-class university has been opened in Astana, and 20 intellectual schools have been built in all regions. The transplantation of heart and other organs, stem cell therapy and other innovations have become real for the medicine of Kazakhstan. The life duration of Kazakhstan’s people is growing. This is possible due to serious investments of the state funds in these sectors. As you know, I have always respected the scientific heritage of the 'school of Eurasians', especially, Lev Gumilyov’s original historical concept. This school left us many forward-thinking ideas. Their in-depth study becomes particularly relevant in the 21st century. However, the most valuable thing for us, living in conditions of globalization, is that Gumilyov’s writings give to all peoples an opportunity to be proud of both their unique historical and cultural code and the fact that we are all Eurasians!
Eurasian integration is a great opportunity, revealed to us by the objective course of historical progress at the turn of the two millennia.
Dear Participants of the Meeting!
The idea of the Eurasian Economic Union has become a detailed program of practical actions with broad public support, including the scientific community. EurAsEC, a free trade zone with the involvement of most CIS countries, the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space of Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia are the consistent results of our joint work. In the 21st c., we have witnessed a phenomenon of compressed historical time. This is one of the challenges that the entire globalized world faces. We have to solve many practical issues of Eurasian integration in the extremely limited period.
For reference, the process of integration in Europe took 11 years to create a customs union, 34 years to form a common market and 40 years to form an economic and monetary union. Then there was another historical background and a different system of risks and challenges. Now Eurasian integration does not have such a “wealth of time”.
The Customs Union has started to work only since 2011. We have to act under the global economic time pressure, because of the forthcoming and inevitable large-scale technological changes in the ХХI century and other challenges.
The Eurasian Union may face various crises in the global economy, as the European Union is now experiencing this. Crises can arise in our economies too. The Ukrainian background is not the best time for us. There is considerable amount of people, willing to see the failure of our idea. Therefore, we must consider these challenges as much as possible when signing an agreement on the Eurasian Economic Union.
These factors should not give rise to any 'delusive' approaches to our decisions. Unfortunately, there is a painful 'impatience' at the expert level, frankly speaking, 'to craft together' the future economic union quickly, as the saying goes, by a template. Certainly, it is done to the detriment of content. I do not follow such simplistic approaches.
Everyone should understand that we are not making a snowman, sparkling with whiteness, which can melt after new changes in the geo-economic or geopolitical environment. For the sake of objectivity, I recall that earlier 'quick decisions' on the individual integration associations in the CIS have been made too.
In addition, earlier, back in the 90s, Contracts of various formats were signed to create common currency, customs and economic spaces, etc. However, where are they now? Who remembers them? They remained only unsuccessful attempts, not even reflected in the history textbooks. As for the Eurasian Economic Union, there is no right to such errors and empty declarations. Frankly speaking, any oversight or shortcoming can ruin the integration process depriving the support of business circles and millions of people.
This very belief defines a number of principle grounds of Kazakhstan in the negotiation process to establish the Economic Union. This year we are entering the historic frontier of signing the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union. At the same time, today it is important to look beyond the horizon and define a strategy for further action, at least 15-20 years ahead.
It is important to understand two important aspects of the main mission of the Eurasian Economic Union in the first half of the 21st century.
First is to become one of the key economic macro regions of the world. Experts believe, this century the world center of 'economic gravity' is shifting to the East, to Asia, including the territory of our future Economic Union. We are located between the largest productive world parts – the European Union and the Asia-Pacific regions. All of that gives us a natural competitive advantage as a geo-economic bridge between East and West, Europe and Asia. At the same time, we cannot just be intermediaries in transferring goods and technology from one area to another.
Eurasian Economic Union should immediately become a new center of global innovation and attraction for transnational business. Secondly, an important component of Eurasian integration mission lies in ensuring that each participating country is included among the most developed countries in the world.
The Eurasian Economic Union should not be a burden, but welfare for the nations and all national economies. We should have a clear system of indicators to measure the impact of Eurasian integration on the growth of living standards, productivity and competitiveness of the economy. Only adhering to such an approach, we will be able to ensure the attractiveness of the 'Eurasian choice' and forever cut off any doubts on the fateful goals of the Eurasian Economic Union.
The whole process of Eurasian integration must be functionally and practically subordinated to the solution of the most important dual civilizational mission. This is the only way to ensure the continued success of Eurasian integration and comprehensive public support for its goals and objectives. In my opinion, the following priorities are important in the strategic development of the Eurasian Economic Union for the next 15-20 years.
FIRST. It is formation of the basic conditions for an accelerated innovative technological breakthrough of national economies and the entire space of Eurasian integration. Development and adoption of the Eurasian Innovation and Technology Cooperation Program for the period until 2025 is considered of great importance.
Determining joint points of economic growth and forming a number of industrial consortia without dissipating forces and resources in most promising areas is crucial in it. For example, in the deep processing of mineral resources, aerospace, chemical industries, engineering, agro-production, energy and transport. Establishing the Eurasian Innovation Council to deal with the issues of our cooperation in the field of innovation on a parity basis is considered to be approved.
Creating joint research clusters, both on a bilateral and multilateral basis is needed. Specific projects should become the driving force of economic integration – to create competitive products, jobs, and allocation increasing to national budgets.
SECOND. The territory of the Eurasian Economic Union should become the forefront of the continental infrastructure on a Eurasian scale.
It is important to work out and implement a number of projects. For example, to create the Unified Eurasian Telecommunications Network, to build a high-speed railroad along the Minsk-Moscow-Astana-Almaty route, to modernize the network of operating roads and railways, especially those coming to the west in Europe, to the Chinese transport systems, and also to realize the project of the channel 'Eurasia': 'Caspian-Black Sea'. Creation of a single internal gas transport network is significant for the strength of the future Eurasian economy providing gas supply to all national economies at agreed and identical tariffs. It is necessary to develop and adopt a joint program 'Eurasian Energy' as a Road Map for deep integration of the energy complex. We have also proposed Russia to jointly build a nuclear power plant.
THIRD. It is clear to me that the basis of the United Eurasian economy should be small and medium business. It is the most important issue for ensuring a flexible response to all possible global economic challenges. Institutes of financial and service support can be created and based on the current Eurasian Development Bank. It is necessary to develop an information-analytical and scientific-practical infrastructure for Eurasian integration.
Elaboration of the mechanisms of the Eurasian Economic Union should become the point of attraction the forces of the best experts and scientific potential of our countries, a platform for working out approaches to the harmonization of interests. It is advisable to establish the Eurasian Agrarian Academy, which can combine the scientific and practical potential of national agrarian branches. Cooperation in this sector will give a powerful impetus to food export, while not creating competition between our agricultural producers.
FORTH. The Eurasian Economic Union goals put forward special requirements for its legal and organizational mechanisms. They must present a tool that is based on firm principles, but at the same time has sufficient flexibility to respond to any changes adequately. It is obvious that the structure and methods of the Eurasian Economic Union bodies’ management cannot just be a tracing paper from other integration structures. We need to look for innovative management models that meet the unique mission of our association. This will protect them from bureaucratization and turning into the sinecure of unclaimed officials of national government machinery. You know that I proposed to place supranational bodies of the Eurasian Economic Union in Astana, located in the heart of Eurasia continent.
There is no ambition here. This is a burden for our country. I justified it, firstly, by the need to balance the algorithm of regulation of the entire economic space. Secondly, it is important to eliminate all external suspicions about Eurasian integration and the fact that Russia "shapes everything for itself". As another variant, I remind of the fact that twenty years ago I called for the center of the Union to be a city located in a region where Europe and Asia converge geographically.
I consider that it is possible to study the candidacies of Kazakhstan's cities Atyrau, Aktobe or Russian Yekaterinburg. However, Astana is more ready for this role.
Today to give a reason for this choice it is necessary to point out the importance of creating a new Eurasian agglomeration, a new center of growth in the middle part of Eurasian integration territory. It could consolidate all regulatory threads based on an approximate equidistance of the Eurasian Economic Union administrative center from the single economic space extreme points.
FIFTH. I am convinced that economic integration will intensify and deepen cultural and humanitarian ties between our peoples. The 21st century unambiguously makes the cultural segment be the most important component of national economies, bringing a great percentage of GDP growth. This is tourism, including historical, cultural, ecological and medical. These are educational services, which are especially important for innovation-industrial development and management systems.
This is the sector of entertainment economy, sports and information product manufacture. At the same time, it is important that the process of cultural and humanitarian integration does not blur the spiritual and cultural diversity of the Eurasian space by dominating one single segment. I consider it impermissible to erode the national content of the cultures of any of our countries. Therefore, it is important to encourage the study of history, literature, cultural heritage and each other's languages in schools and universities of countries-participants.
I consider it important that the Eurasian broadcasting structures, which will appear in our future, use official languages of all countries participating in the integration process. This will bring us closer and inspire more trust. I also propose to announce the day of signing the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union creation in Astana as the Day of Eurasian Integration.
This is my general vision of the strategic path that the Eurasian integration will have to undergo in the 21st century. I share my thoughts with you − the scientific elite, which directly works with young people. The construction of our economic union is not a rigid dogma. We have to face many challenges of the time. Integration choice is not a 'magic wand', and does not guarantee miracles. Only time has the exclusive gift of persuasion.
The experience of the two decades that have passed since my proclamation of Eurasian integration idea confirms it. I sincerely hope that my approaches and vision of an important stage in the Eurasian Economic Union formation will be supported in scientific community and among the public of Russia. I am deeply convinced that the 21st century will be the century of great and prosperous Eurasia.
Thank you for attention!