Foreign Minister: Minsk is not euphoric about EaEU treaty

Belarus is not euphoric about the signing of the Treaty on the Formation of the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU) because its final version is not what Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia had originally planned to sign, Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey said in an interview with news agency BelaPAN.

Minsk had expected the treaty to provide for free trade in goods and services without exceptions and restrictions, but what the three countries signed in late May keeps many of them in place, he stressed.

‘Belarus was ready to make steps to meet our partners halfway. Unfortunately, our partners proved not ready to remove all exceptions and restrictions in mutual trade,’ said the minister.

He stressed that the treaty had not yet created a single economic area.

At the same time, Mr Makey noted, Belarus and Russia have managed to solve many of their economic differences through bilateral agreements.

Although Minsk was unhappy with the final version of the treaty, it decided to sign it because ‘talk cannot last forever’, according to the minister. ‘The very fact of the treaty signing is important because it meant the continuation of our integration processes. We could not slow down integration,’ he said.

The treaty sets specific timeframes for removing all restrictions in mutual trade, including as far as it concerns trade in natural gas and crude oil, he stressed.

Uladzimir Makey stressed that membership of regional trade blocs was vital to Belarus’ survival. ‘It is an axiom that we should be a member of the Customs Union, the Common Economic Zone and the future Eurasian Economic Union. Then it will yield a specific payoff to us,’ he noted.

Mr. Makey expressed hope that the European Union and the EaEU would soon realize the importance of forging closer economic ties. He also shrugged off fears that Russian tycoons would rush to acquire Belarus’ key companies following the establishment of the EaEU. ‘We don’t intend to sell the wealth accumulated by many generations of the Belarusian people to any tycoons – be it Russian, European or American ones,’ he said.

Tanya Korovenkova/BelaPAN

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