Aleksander Milinkievich, a Belarusian dissident, criticized the signing of a declaration on integration between Belarus, Russia and Kazakstan towards Eurasian Union. In his opinion, the new union is not able to solve the most important challenge ahead of Belarusian economy – its modernization. “Only the EU can help with [modernization]. Even Russia, when they want to modernize, asks Europe for help. I am not against Russia, but the integration should go in a different direction” – he told Belsat.
Europe can be a source of new investments, know how and high tech, while Russia and Kazakhstan have economies based on resources, thinks Milinkievich. He also stressed divergence between Belarusian economy and that of her partners. – We have the economy based on industry, agriculture and transit, it’s based on knowledge. – he told Belsat.
Milinkievich thinks that integration based on the Eurasian Union has a goal of creating new Soviet Union, both in economic and political terms. And there is no social acceptance for such move among Belarusians. “Let’s ask a simple man if he wants to integrate with the former soviet countries – he will answer yes, because we will gain a new market for export of our goods and access to cheap resources. But ask him if he want Belarus to become a part of the new Soviet Union or Russia – only 3% would agree. – said Milinkievich.
Should Belarus integrate with Russia, it will become exposed to new problems – such as higher crime rates, oligarchy, wars in Caucasus, according to the dissident. He also stressed that the Eurasian Union is an association of undemocratic states, where there is no space for freedom and efficient economy.
Milinkievich is also concerned with a plan to introduce Russian ruble as a new common currency, which is equivalent to complete loss of economic sovereignty. Belarus, thinks Milinkievich, should use experience of the Eastern European countries, where live standard increased for certain segments of the society after the economic shock therapy was imposed. “Even in Estonia, which is comparable to Hrodna district, an average monthly salary is 1000 USD per capita, while in Belarus it is only 145 USD. Reforms are possible only with help of the EU, otherwise we will be only a supplement for the resources-based economies – said Milinkievich.
Russia wants to become a power center once again, thanks to the integration and use the new union as bargaining chip in negotiations with Moscow and Brussels, thinks Milinkievich.