ЕЭК Экономика және қаржы саясаты бойынша Алқа мүшесі (Министр) Тимур Сулейменовтің «ЕО-пен ынтымақтастық Еуразиялық одақ үшін маңызды басымдылық болып табылады» АЭФ шеңберінде Calea Europeana порталына берген сұхбаты, ағылшын тілі

ЕЭК Экономика және қаржы саясаты бойынша Алқа мүшесі (Министр) Тимур Сулейменовтің «ЕО-пен ынтымақтастық Еуразиялық одақ үшін маңызды басымдылық болып табылады» АЭФ шеңберінде Calea Europeana порталына берген сұхбаты, ағылшын тілі


Interview taken by Razvan Buzatu, from www.caleaeuropeana.ro, with Mr. Timur Suleymenov – Member of the Board of Directors on behalf of Kazakhstan of the Eurasian Economic Commission, with the rank of Minister for Economy and Financial Policies.

The Eurasian Economic Commission is a permanent regulatory body with a supranational governing structure of the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia Customs Union. It also regulates the activity of the Singlr Economic Space of the Eurasian Economic Community. In 2015, the three countries would establish the Eurasian Economic Union or, simply, the Eurasian Union. Countries that are neighbours are wellcomed, as well as other countires, if they so wish it.

Razvan Buzatu: Thank you very much for tacking this interview for Calea Europeana. We are based in Romania, we are a website that transmits to the European Union people and citizens messages and information from around the world. I have participated and saw your speech regarding the Eurasian Economic Commission and also the speech in the conference regarding the Eurasian Union, I think it’s an important speech because what happened in the past 10 years is that some of the International Organizations in the Eurasian region have integrated with one another to the point were at this moment you need to convey till 2015 in a Eurasian Economic Union, which resembles basically that what we do at the European Commission, the European Union and European continent. What was the idea behind creating such a union in the Eurasian region?

Timur Suleymenov: Well, you have partly answered your question yourself. You said that we are following your steps, right, the steps of the European Union and basically the values and the goals that drove the European nations together are pretty much the same for us. We share a lot in terms of culture, in terms of heritage, in terms of history, we share the language, because we all speak Russian language and of course the most important factor is economics, the economy. We have interconnected, interlinked economies. We lived more than 70 years within the Soviet Union and prior to that in the Russian Empire and so our economies are interconnected and there is a bigger alliance on supplies from one country to another, the way the pipes lines are flowing, the way the roads are built, the way the railways are built, everything is linked, and of course when you have three sets of economic policies, each independent from each other, it’s pretty difficult to coordinate them, it’s pretty difficult to get the benefits that we have without the integration. So, I think it’s the mixture (to come back to your question), the mixture of pure economic needs and the common heritage that we have, which made it easier to move a little faster than you did it in the European Union, because, let’s face it, Belarus and Russia have a lot more in common than, for example, France and Germany, and that relates to Kazakhstan as well. It is easier for us and there are few of us, only 3 at the moment, and that’s why we are moving a little bit faster and, plus, you’ve been a role model for us and we have taken a lot from your success and your mistakes.


RB: Ok, that is very important. How many members do you envisage that the Eurasian Union would have in the future?

TS: Well, we are an open club, if you will, of countries and currently we have 3. Armenia is on the way, we are realizing the road map to the customs union and economic union. Kyrgyzstan is also on the way; we are all hopping to sign the roadmap for accession on the 30th of May during the Presidential Summit, here in Astana. Of course, the first countries are the immediate neighbors, immediate neighbors from the CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States, so any country that shares values which wants to be a part of this project is welcomed. It’s hard to tell how many, but I guess it depends on whether or not there is a willingness on their parts.

RB: How do you see the cooperation with the European Union?

TS: Well, it is a big priority for all our countries. The European Union is the biggest trading partner for the Customs Union as a whole, for the Eurasian Economic Union as a whole. Except for Belarus, it is the biggest trading partner for all the countries individually, so the relationship is very high on the agenda of every member country, so, I guess, we view it pretty much in the same way as we view with any other country or trade block. It has to be mutually beneficial. We have to abide by the standards of the WTO (World Trade Organization), liberalize our trade even further. We have been in contact, in negotiations with the European free Trade Association, but for some obvious reasons, these have been halted. In any case, crisis come and go, and the economy always stays in place. So, as I said, in several years time, we need to start at least thinking of liberalizing our trade even further. What it will take to do that, I do not know. But, you have your hands full with the Transatlantic and we have our hands full with finalizing our internal arrangements. So, once that settles, there will be willingness and place for dialogue.

RB: You’ve mentioned the Trans-Atlantic relation that the European Union has with the United States of America. What do you think that this Trans-Atlantic strategic partnership can bring to the Eurasian region? How can it be benefit?

TS: I think maybe it’s too early to say about the effects of the Trans-Atlantic agreement on the Eurasian region. But definitely we are not viewing the current negotiations between America and Europe as any kind of a threat to us. I mean, we welcome it. It is a very good thing. I don’t think that many people from America or Europe know what will be the final text, the final agreement.

RB: What do you think it will happen with the other international organizations in the Eurasian region when in 2015 the Eurasian Union will become functional? And by the other organizations I mean: the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Russia-Belarus Customs Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community. What do you think will happen with them?

TS: Well, the Customs Union between Russia and Belarus is fully integrated in the Customs Union for the troika. And the Eurasian Economic Community has been partially integrated in the Customs Union with some of our functions and it will be dissolved, because there is no longer need for it. Because we have clear functions and we took it one step further. So, with respect to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), it will remain in place, because it is a perfect dialogue between 9 countries, and we have to have that, we have the free trade agreement within the CIS. With respect to the security arrangements, of course, they will be in place. They are not being affected by the economic union in any way.

RB: How do you decide? What is mechanism of decision making and decision taking in the future Eurasian Union?

TS: We have a two tier system. We have the Council, which is like in the European Union, is at Deputy Prime-Minister level. So, in the Council we have 3 deputy prime ministers who represent the countries and, then, we have the Board, a member of which I am. There are 9 of us, 3 from each country and each member has one vote; the same for the Council.

RB: And the vote is by unanimity?

TS: In the Council it has to be unanimous, and in the Board it is qualified majority, 6 out of 9. And we have a special document which defines what decisions are to be taken by the Council and what decisions are to be taken by the Commission (the Board). So, the more sensitive stuff which can affect the countries harder is to be taken first at the Board level and then to the Council, with consensus. But, the Board has some direct responsibilities. So, the decisions they take are to be realized, not implemented, in the countries directly, without ratification.

RB: What are the economic fields that you envisage the cooperation between the member states and the future member states?

TS: Well, transport is very important, because we have vast landmass. We are right in between China, India and Europe, so, transport, of course, is a high priority to us. Energy is also very high priority to us. In terms of agriculture: it is one of the sectors that can be competitive on the global stage. I think that if we unite our efforts it can bear some dividends for us.

RB: One final question. What message does the Astana Economic Forum wants to transmit to the world, because, for three days, Astana is the centre of the world. What message do you think you want to send to the world?

TS: I think there is a very good saying by our President. He has always insisted that economy comes first and that politics comes second. So, in many ways, they are interdependent, politics and economics, but, in many ways, the bad politics is influenced by bad economics. So, if we join our efforts in improving the investment plan, business plan and the lives of our citizens, then, there will be no room for bad policy making in terms of politics. So, economy first, politics second. That’s the message.

RB: Mister Minister, thank you very much for your time.