MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

INFORMATION AND PRESS DEPARTMENT
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DAILY NEWS BULLETIN



14.05.2002

Replies by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin at a Joint Press Conference with the Eurasian Economic Community Heads of State


May 13, 2002
Moscow

Question: Won't the desire of the member states to join the WTO have an adverse effect on EurAsEC?

Vladimir Putin: We think it's possible. We paid this special attention in order to prevent such a turn of events. We adopted a special decision on this issue, according to which all EurAsEC countries, during their consultations and accession talks with the WTO, will coordinate their positions, proceeding from the underlying principles of this organization. Everybody agreed that the conditions the Russian Federation is bargaining for itself, because it is easier for it to do this than for other countries due to its economic potential, are acceptable. I believe this is one of the main decisions that was adopted today. I fully agree with the assessment made in this respect by our Chairman -- the President of Kazakhstan.

Question: After a year of EurAsEC's existence, can one say that this organization has a future?

Vladimir Putin: If we had not believed in the future of this organization, we would not have created it. A lot was lost after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The severance of so-called people's economic ties hit citizens in the first place. The question is how to preserve what is ought to be preserved, meaning globalization processes in the world economy, not to lag behind these processes but to offer the services and goods that are competitive, and to jointly use all benefits of interaction within the Commonwealth in the world markets.

All this creates good conditions for development. The chairman of our organization has already mentioned the rate of economic growth we have reached lately. I must say Kazakhstan is an indisputable leader in terms of growth. Thirteen-odd percent of GDP growth in the first two to three months of this year is, I think, an excellent indicator. Tajikistan is also developing well with more than 8 percent. It's a very good indicator. I think one of the reasons for this is that very many barriers impeding cooperation have been removed within EurAsEC. We discussed energy and transport projects, and interaction between customs and border guard services. If we move in this direction energetically, I am sure this organization will have a future.

Question: EurAsEC has lately been compared quite often with the European Union. These are quite close organizations by their nature. Did you discuss at your meeting today the possibility of creating a mechanism that will enable EurAsEC to cooperate with the European Union closer?

Vladimir Putin: I think EurAsEC may of course be compared with the European Union, but such a comparison certainly won't be in our favor. The European Union has traversed a long way of interaction and cooperation. As you know, it all began with coal and steel. Europe remembered this recently, it remembered the French Foreign Minister who started this process.

As for interaction, it is possible, of course. We know that the European Union is open for interaction. We, Russia, actively cooperate with the European Union. Likewise, EurAsEC is an organization that was created first of all to strengthen the mechanism of economic interaction.

I am absolutely convinced that the European Union will be interested in interaction with EurAsEC. I mean the great energy potential of the EurAsEC countries, their transportation capabilities and other infrastructure that we will be ready to offer for effective interaction. There are markets and production capabilities, not only raw materials, but also high technologies. Undoubtedly, these are the priorities that may be used effectively. We did not discuss this directly today, but when we get together, we always remember the processes within the European Union, compare things and try to take the best. Just today I talked about the European Union's decision to create a single border guard service. It's not about agreeing the borderguard policy, it's about creating a single supranational organization. As you know, one of our decisions today was to agree the terms of our interaction in the field of customs regulation. I cannot say that this was done under the direct influence of the European Union, but I repeat this again, we compare what we do with the European Union and will try to organize our joint work within EurAsEC in such a way that will create no obstacles to cooperation with the European Union, and on the contrary, will clear the way to interaction.

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