Future of CIS depends on pace of economic integration, Lukashenka says


The future of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) depends on the pace of economic integration between its member states, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said in Minsk on Friday while meeting with the prime ministers of the CIS countries.

A meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Government is scheduled to take place in Minsk later in the day.

It will be very difficult to portray the CIS as a successful regional international organization if the integration pace is too slow, said, the Belarusian leader said, according to the government’s news agency BelTA.

Mr. Lukashenka welcomed the adoption of an economic development strategy for the CIS for the period until 2020 and of an action plan to implement it. The conclusion of a free trade agreement that applies to goods is particularly important, he said.

Mr. Lukashenka stressed that there should be more examples of economic cooperation like this. It is very important to properly implement the agreement, which requires more active trade and economic cooperation and the gradual elimination of exceptions to free trade rules, he said.

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia are to remove all tariff barriers for mutual trade, including trade in oil and gas, by the time the Eurasian Economic Union comes into existence on January 1, 2015, Mr. Lukashenka said.

He said that despite the economic nature of the Union, its members would also seek to solve the political problems that impede its development.

Other countries can join the Common Economic Zone and later the Eurasian Economic Union only if they join all agreements signed by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, Mr. Lukashenka said.

Memorandums that will grant Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan observer status in the Eurasian Economic Union are expected to be signed by the CIS Council of Heads of Government during its meeting, he noted.

The memorandums guarantee that no restrictions will be imposed on the two countries if they decide to join the Common Economic Zone and later the Eurasian Economic Union, Mr. Lukashenka said. //BelaPAN