Let’s accept Turkey to the Customs Union, Kazakh President says

Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced support Thursday for his Kazakh counterpart’s proposal to dissolve the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), but said such a move should be gradual and well thought over, RIA Novosti reports.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed on Thursday to dissolve the EurAsEC and focus on the expansion of the mooted Eurasian Economic Union, which will be based on the Customs Union that currently comprises Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

“We cannot simply eliminate [EurAsEC], otherwise we will disrupt the legal basis of the Customs Union,” Putin said. “But we have to do something with it.”

Nazarbayev said earlier in the day that the closure of the EurAsEC was necessary to avoid redundancy because its functions were similar to the planned Eurasian Economic Union. He proposed focusing on the expansion of the Customs Union.

Commenting on Nazarbayev’s statement, Putin said “we need to think this over and find a decision that will not burden us with excessive structures.”

According to Nazarbayev, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan could be granted observer status in the Customs Union, while Armenia and Turkey would get the full membership.

“The president of Turkey approached me with a request to join our Customs Union,” Nazarbayev said at a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Minsk. “Let us accept Turkey as well.”

EurAsEC’s full-fledged members are currently Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine have observer status.

In 2011, the Russian, Belarusian and Kazakh presidents signed a declaration on Eurasian economic integration, a roadmap of integration processes aimed at creating the Eurasian Economic Union, to be based on the Customs Union and common economic space between the three countries.

Russia’s president at the time, Dmitry Medvedev, said Moscow expected the Eurasian Economic Union to be up and running by 2015.

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