Former Soviet republics put finishing touches on Eurasian integratio

Former Soviet republics put finishing touches on Eurasian integration deal
by BAGILA BUKHARBAYEVA; Associated Press Writer

Associated Press Worldstream
June 17, 2004 Thursday

ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Senior officials from five former Soviet
republics put the final touches Thursday on draft agreements aimed
at pushing forward their economic integration.

The agreements on adoption of unified laws and circulation of
securities among the Russia-dominated Eurasian Economic Community
will be signed by the nations’ leaders Friday in the Kazakh capital
Astana. The group also includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
and Tajikistan.

Gregori Rapota, the group’s secretary-general, said Thursday the
agreement on common laws would be a “first step toward handing
over some (lawmaking) functions to a supranational parliament.” The
securities agreement would help ensure free capital flow between the
countries, he said.

The nations’ deputy prime ministers also discussed plans to
introduce favorable railway tariffs and create a joint water and
energy consortium to end regional disputes over sharing resources,
said Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Sauat Mynbayev.

The Eurasian Economic Community was founded in 2000 to restore lost
economic ties after the 1991 Soviet collapse. Russia has 40 percent
of the voting rights in the organization and covers 40 percent of
its budget.

In February, the countries agreed to form a customs union by 2006.
The nations have a total population of more than 180 million.

The five countries are also working on creating a transport union and
coordinated migration policies, and are discussing unified energy and
agricultural markets. They also plan to move toward a single currency.

Three other former Soviet republics – Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine –
have observer status in the group.

The group’s summit Friday will be followed by a meeting of leaders
of the Collective Security Treaty, a security alliance including the
five economic community members and Armenia.

Friday’s meetings in Astana come after a summit Thursday of a security
grouping of China, Russia and four former Soviet republics in Central
Asia in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.