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The Eurasian Response
This fall, Izvestia of Russia, suddenly became all post-Soviets’ foremost newsmaker. It all got underway, when the Russian Premier, Vladimir Putin published an article for Izvestia on Eurasian Union concept. Later, Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarus President made his own contribution to Izvestia on the same matter. The Republic of Kazakhstan President, Nursultan Nazarbayev was the last person to share his view on the issue, - his article was published in Izvestia on October 25th 2011.
Автор: Sultan Akimbekov
Локация: Almaty
Номер: №19 (56) 2011

The above sequence of events looks like our President chose to hold that thought, as habitual to a Grand Master, and drew a rather effective conclusion to a topic raised by himself back in 1994 and later taken by Vladimir Putin as one of essential points of upcoming election campaign of 2012. Although the further discussion of the issue is rather possible, Heads of States and Governments are unlikely to proceed to exchange correspondence on the issue. In the majority of instances, because President Nazarbayev was so precise in identification of the cores of all earlier understated problems, as well as in communication of Kazakhstan’s position in regards to those problems, that it would appear some difficult not to agree.  Likewise, it appears challenging to respond to an unexpected and a rather daring proposition to make Astana the capital city of the new Eurasian Union, similar to Brussels, the domicile for the European Commission.

The said proposition is obviously unacceptable to Moscow. But if Customs Union (CU), Common Free Market Zone (CFMZ) and then Eurasian Union follow the evolution of European Union, then the proposition made by Nursultan Nazarbayev appears rather logical.  Because in the opposite case, European Union would have found it more logically justified to set up the capital in Berlin or Paris.  But European Union is emphatically loyal to smaller countries, and the capital of Belgium was chosen on basis of that particular consideration.

In fact, Mr. Nazarbayev’s proposition impels Moscow to decide what it is that Moscow exactly sees in or expects from the post-Soviet integration. Is it really to be a union of peer partners, or does Moscow view that project as some sort of a policy for concentration of lands in the orbit of Russia’s central core? If we discuss a partnership of peers, then it should constitute no problem to make Astana or, for example, Minsk, the capital of Eurasian Union.  But if another point of view is correct, the issue acquires critical importance.

The equality in relations among partners became the main issue of Mr. Nazarbayev’s article. He wrote: “Initially, I viewed Eurasian Union as a community of countries based on principles of equality of integration partners, non-interference with each others’ domestic affairs, regard for sovereignty and inviolability of national borders”. Onwards, he added: “I proposed to establish supernational bodies of Eurasian Union, which bodies would act on basis of consensus and account of interests of all stakeholders and possess distinct and tangible authority.  That, however, in no manner implies delegation of political sovereignty.  That is axiom.  That is exactly how the successful European Union experience was”.

It is for the first time, that we are in position to observe our President’s discussion of the matter in such a context.  He, in fact, cleared all of Kazakhstan society’s recent concerns caused by potential loss of national sovereignty due to Customs Union. Kazakhstan is in full capacity to and must keep its sovereignty.

In the above issue, our President enters into extramural polemics with the Russian leadership, for example, when he writes: “my idea of creation of Eurasian Union was not and shall not be either smug complacency or political nostalgia that veils future.  It was and shall proceed to be based on pragmatism that denies any form of political violence to economy, regardless righteous intention or substantiation covering that violence. It is improvident to view the Eurasian Project only as an opportunity to find collective shelter from exterior economic, military, political, informational, technologic, environmental and other threats.  Given such a narrow understanding of CFMZ’s historic future, it may appear rather tempting to draw new Iron Curtain tailored with new geopolitical curves. That is absolutely unallowable and unacceptable.  There is no and there shall be no USSR Restoration or Reincarnation. Those are just phantoms from the past, assumptions and speculations.  Our views stand in line with those of the leaderships of Russia and Belarus and the other countries.  Today, we must overcome of fear of the word UNION and proverbial EMPIRE EXPANSION”.

Please be reminded that Premier Putin called the collapse of the USSR “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe ever in history”.  That phrase gave critics of the Russian leader grounds to suspect him of willingness to restore the former empire.  Kazakhstan, with no doubt, was a historically important part of that empire.  But the times changed and President Nazarbayev gives a rather clear formulation of situation in Kazakhstan.  His headnotes of “long waited independence” for Kazakhstan and other Republics of the former USSR, as well as appeal to abandon the perception of integration as a means to build a new Iron Curtain. By that statement, President Nazarbayev confirmed Kazakhstan proceeded to follow  time trialed multi-vector policy and was not in agreement to cruise in the fairway of Russia’s international policy. Because CU and CFMZ follow the path of the European Union.  It is an economic project, a task to make citizens’ lives better, by means of joint projects and in no manner is it a Military and Political Alliance against anybody, a unification in which a bigger country directs smaller neighbors.


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