On April 2, the authorities of Minsk and Moscow will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the so-called Union State of Belarus and Russia. Experts of the Minsk Dialogue believe that by this date concrete results of integration will be presented.
The Minsk Dialogue expert initiative has produced the seventh issue of the Minsk Barometer featuring materials on the topic.
According to the authors of the Barometer, by the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Union State Treaty, which took place on April 2, the public will be presented with information about specific results of the 20-year integration — at least in the form of information materials shaped in the modern way.
Also, solemn events with the participation of the Parliament and the Supreme State Council of the Union State will be held on the occasion of the anniversary. The preparation of anniversary events will probably be preceded by working meetings of leaders.
At the same time, experts of the Minsk Dialogue believe that it is difficult to expect practical resolution of conflict issues between Belarus and Russia during this period. However, meetings can be held both with the main negotiating groups and relatively new participants — business unions and public associations.
Revision of the Union
The Minsk Barometer recalls that at the end of last year Russia initiated a revision of the Union Treaty in response to the demands of Belarus to start moving towards equal conditions on the oil and gas markets in 2020-2024. Starting from 2025 they should already be enacted within EEU.
Russia believes that even a partial extension of internal conditions to the union country before the launch of common markets should be happening due to the obligations of Russia and Belarus within the Union State. In fact, the agreement on oil and gas could be formalized both in the bilateral intergovernmental order and through the EAEU, but Russia decided to conduct another review of cooperation within the framework of the Union State.
Integration within the framework of the Union State in 2009-2010 reached a dead end due to Russia’s unwillingness to implement the parity decision-making principle laid down in the 1999 Treaty. Therefore, a significant part of bilateral relations was transferred first to the EurAsEC Customs Union (in 2011) and the EAEU (in 2015), where the principle of decision making is closer to proportional, or, in other words, Russia has a stronger voice than allied countries.
An intergovernmental working group was set up in Russia and Belarus to revise the Union Treaty and make recommendations for further integration. From the Russian side, this group was headed by the Minister of Economic Development, Maxim Oreshkin, from the Belarusian side — by the Minister of Economy, Dzmitry Krutoy.
Both Lukashenko and members of the Belarusian part of the group have repeatedly described approaches of Belarus to integration in January-February: only on a fully equivalent basis, preserving the sovereignty of the two countries, creating additional supranational institutions to complement the existing ones, only after the economic integration issues involving gas and oil prices are solved).