How influential is the Eurasian community in Singapore

The Eurasian Economic Union Russia's alternative: The Eurasian Economic Union The motivations for Russia's Eurasian integration project The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), founded in 2014, is an attempt by Russia to revive the integration projects of the post-Soviet area, which had largely failed until then, under its political hegemony. The Community of Independent States16 (CIS) that emerged in the process of dissolution of the USSR and the Organization of the Treaty on Collective Security17 in the CIS (CSTO) had Russia's expectations Part III 1. 16 The translation of the excerpts from Russian and Armenian sources and references was done by the author . On December 8, 1991, Russia officially dissolved the Soviet Union with Ukraine and Belarus and founded the Community of Independent States. The remaining successor states of the USSR - with the exception of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Georgia - joined this community on December 21. Thus, from a total of fifteen former Soviet republics, these eleven came together again in one form of organization. Georgia joined in 1993, but left in 2009. At the 1993 summit in Minsk, Ukraine and Turkmenistan decided not to sign the statutes of the CIS. Thus they are not a member state of the CIS, but only founding and passive members of the CIS. In 2005, Turkmenistan decided to remain in the CIS only as an associate member. The goals of the CIS are cooperation in a wide variety of areas such as political, economic, ecological, humanitarian and cultural. The CIS has set itself the goal of strengthening friendly and good neighborly relations between its members, ensuring understanding and building trust between the member states, and resolving conflicts and disputes among member states by peaceful means. The uniform administrative-coordinating body of the CIS is the permanent executive committee. The committee's headquarters are in Minsk and have a branch in Moscow. Information about the CIS, under: http: //www.cis.min, accessed: 01.03.2017. 17 CSTO was established on May 15, 1992 by the Treaty on Collective Security. The founding members are: Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In 1993 Azerbaijan, Belarus and Georgia also joined. The treaty entered into force on April 20, 1994 after the ratification pro-79 by no means fulfilled. The CIS was an organization born of necessity in order to carry out the dissolution of the Soviet Union in an orderly manner. But the attempt failed to convert this undertaking into an integration project of the newly created independent states at the same time. For example, the CIS had resolved to maintain cooperation between the successor states in many areas, such as foreign policy, the fight against crime and environmental protection, by maintaining its military-strategic and economic cooperation. But because of very divergent interests and positions, not least because of the numerous ethno-territorial conflicts in the post-Soviet space, the member states developed too differently. All states were similar in only one respect: they wanted to be as independent as possible from the former power center in Moscow in order to be able to determine their own development. Some successor states turned away from Moscow, others joined new alliances. Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, for example, became members of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development18 (GUAM), which is seen as competition with the CIS and the CSTO. in force in the Member States. The contract was initially concluded for five years. In 1999, only Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan renewed the treaty. In 2002 it was renamed to organize the collective security treaty. The key article of the treaty states that in the event of aggression against a member state of the treaty by another state or group of states, it will be considered aggression against all member states. Collective aid is provided to the state concerned by all means, including military aid. The permanent executive organs of the CSTO are the Secretariat with the seat in Moscow and the common staff. The history of the CSTO, under: / structure /, accessed: February 10, 2017. 18 On October 10, 1997, the heads of state of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine signed the founding communiqué of GUAM at the Council of Europe summit in Strasbourg. The communiqué laid down the need for close cooperation in the four-way format, which should serve to consolidate stability and security in Europe, based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, democracy and the rule of law. The abbreviation stands for the names of the member states. In 1999 Uzbekistan also joined the GUAM. Thus the GUAM became the GUUAM. However, in 2002 Uzbekistan suspended its membership in the GUUAM and in 2005 resigned. In 2001, the GUAM stipulated further goals: Cooperation in the socio-economic area, in trade, in the development and effective use of transport arteries and infrastructures, consolidation Part III The Eurasian Economic Union 80 For Russia, the successor states were of decisive importance through collective security protection to be bound to himself and thereby to maintain his security monopoly, especially his military presence in these countries. However, this was only partially successful. The withdrawal of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan from the CSTO created areas of security competition for Russia: in Azerbaijan with Turkey, in Georgia with NATO, in Uzbekistan with the radical Islamist currents that spilled over from neighboring Afghanistan. The successor states, in which Russia had military bases, also demanded ever higher fees for an extension of the lease agreements concluded for these bases. Azerbaijan, for example, demanded a 40-fold higher rent instead of the US $ 7 million that had to be paid annually until then, after the lease had expired. Kyrgyzstan declared that it did not want a foreign military presence in the country and tried in this way to obtain concessions from Russia on various issues.19 Georgia even did not consider it necessary to dress its demand in the guise of a price increase and spoke plainly: the Russian military presence was undesirable. Moscow had to withdraw from its military bases in Georgia in 2007 and from those in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan in 2012. In contrast, Russia was allowed to continue to use its military bases in Armenia, Belarus, in the breakaway Georgian autonomies of South Ossetia and Abkhazia free of charge. Without any lease fee for a base, the troops were initially stationed in Tajikistan. After complaints from the government there, Moscow promised in return that it would re-equip the Tajik army.20 These experiences fueled fears in Moscow that further base losses could occur. With the onset of the political turmoil in regional security, the fight against international terrorism, harmonization of laws within the member states. In its career, GUAM received support from the USA through a framework program within which many projects were implemented. At the 2006 GUAM summit in Kiev, the heads of state announced the establishment of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM. At: http: // guam-organizat, accessed: 03/18/20017. 19 Kruglow, Alexander: Basis Einsatz, in: "Sowerschennokretno", No: 13/308, 02.08.2014, at:, accessed: 18.02.2017 Note 19. 1. Russia's alternative: The Eurasian Economic Union 81 Ukraine as a result of the Orange Revolution rang all alarm bells in Moscow. Russia turned its gaze to the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, where its Black Sea fleet was stationed. The original lease for the fleet was due to expire in 2017. In 2010, Moscow extended the contract with the government of pro-Russian President Yanukovych as a precaution until 2042. For Moscow, one thing was certain: every political change in Kiev that would lead the country to turn to the West had to be perceived as an acute danger to Russian interests, and it did It was therefore necessary to do something about it.With President Yanukovich's flight, which can be traced back to the “Maidan movement”, Moscow's possibility of Einf to take luss, towards zero. Russia had to find a solution to its problem and it had to be done quickly. The annexation of Crimea was Moscow's cutting of the Ukrainian-Gordian knot. In addition to security issues, Russia also had significant economic concerns about Ukraine. For example, even before 2014, cooperation between Russia and Ukraine in the arms sector was of great economic importance. In 2010 Russia was Ukraine's most important trading partner with an export share of 26%. In 2013 exports had shrunk by 14 %.21 The economic consequences of Ukraine's association with the EU were not discussed with the party most affected, Russia.22 The eastward expansion of NATO and the EU's wooing of Ukraine were acute in Russia's eyes Danger. The EU's broad assurances that the Association of Ukraine in particular, and the Eastern Partnership Program in general, were not an anti-Russia project did not allay Russian concerns. Because Russia saw the EP program in close connection with NATO enlargement. 21 Stratiewski, Dmitri: Ukrainian Foreign Trade with the Post-Soviet Region. Federal Agency for Civic Education, September 30, 2016, at: nternationales / europa / ukraine / 234861 / analyze-der-ukrainische-aussenhandel-mit-der-post-sovietischen -region, accessed: 12.02 .2017. 22 An interview with Professor Günter Verheugen by the author: At the end of a necessary reform process, we will have a different EU than today, February 16, 2016, at: -Publications / at-the-end-of-a-necessary-reform-process-we-will-be, accessed: 11.03.2017. Part III The Eurasian Economic Union 82 Russia's initial relative composure towards the Eastern Partnership has gradually been lost since 2010 and completely disappeared in 2013. Armenia was the first state to feel this change. The small South Caucasian republic was given a choice in September 2013: Russia or the EU. For example, after three and a half years of negotiations on the association agreement with the EU and only two months before the preliminary signing of the latter, which was planned in Vilnius, Armenia had to resign and declare its accession to the customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. At the time of this decision, the EU was already Armenia's largest trading partner with around 27% of total Armenian foreign trade. The second largest trading partner was Russia with around 24%, while the shares of Belarus and Kazakhstan were 0.8% and 0.2% respectively.23 In Moscow it had meanwhile come to the view that it would be very difficult in the long run To promote the connection of the successor states of the USSR with pressure alone. These states should therefore be offered an attractive alternative to the association agreement with the EU, the core of which was the free trade agreement. Thus Russia pushed ahead with its sluggishly progressing and anything but attractive integration project for the post-Soviet area for over two decades and crowned it with the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union. History of the EAEU The history of the Eurasian Economic Union goes back to 1994. At that time, the newly elected President of Kazakhstan, the former communist party functionary Nursultan Nazarbayev, put forward the idea of ​​a Eurasian Union on his first official visit to Moscow. In the same year a draft was drawn up which was presented to the heads of state of the successor states of the USSR and published in the press. The reactions were cautious. However, the first steps towards implementation took place as early as 1995: Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed a memorandum on 23 The Statistical Office of Armenia, Foreign Trade, at: nid = 82 & id = 1693, accessed: January 9, 2017. 1. Russia's alternative: The Eurasian Economic Union 83 Establishment of a customs union. This was followed in March 1996 by the Treaty on deepening integration in economic and humanitarian areas between them and Kyrgyzstan. In 1999 the four former Soviet republics signed the treaty on the creation of the customs union and the common economic area. In 2000 they founded the Eurasian Economic Community, which Tajikistan also joined. In 2003 the presidents of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine signed a memorandum on the creation of a common customs area. In 2007, the agreement on the creation of a common customs area and the establishment of the customs union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan followed. The customs union came into force in January 2010. All customs borders between the three states were dismantled by July 2011. In 2011, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed a declaration on Eurasian economic integration, in which the next step was to establish the common economic area. In 2012 the agreements on the common economic area came into force. The next and decisive step was the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union on May 29, 2014 by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. From January 1, 2015, the EAEU contract came into force. In October of the same year, Armenia joined the EAEU, later also Kyrgyzstan.24 The three most important goals of the EAEU are: to create favorable conditions for sustainable and stable economic development in the member states, to establish a common market for goods, capital and Labor and services, modernizing and increasing the competitiveness of the Member States' economies, as well as intensifying cooperation between Member States. It is planned to set up common markets for energy, finance and transport services by 2025.25 The common market for services and labor has existed since 2015. 24 The history of the EAEU, at: ? lang = on # about-history, accessed: March 12, 2017. 25 The EAEU contract, at: ment.aspx? S = bef9c798-3978-42f3-9ef2-d0fb3d53b75f & w = 632c7868-4ee2-4b21-b c64- 1995328e6ef3 & l = 540294ae-c3c9-4511-9bf8-aaf5d6e0d169 & entityid = 3610, accessed: 03/22/2017. Part III The Eurasian Economic Union 84 forces, since the beginning of 2017 also the common market for pharmaceuticals and medical devices. In terms of organizational structure, the EAEU is similar to the EU: a supreme Eurasian economic council in which the heads of state are represented, a Eurasian government council with the heads of government, a Eurasian economic commission, which functions as a supranational and permanent body, and a court of the Eurasian economic union . In a basic article on the integration project of the post-Soviet area published in "Izvestia" in 2011, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of the favorable opportunity to creatively use the experience of the EU and the Schengen area and to design your own Eurasian integration area, taking into account the successes and mistakes . He emphasized that it was by no means a question of rehabilitating the USSR, because “it is naive to try to restore or copy something that has already remained in the past. But a close integration, based on new values, our political and economic foundations is imperative in our time. ”26 That was the intention, but the way of implementation cannot be linked to the announced new values: an imposed membership affects not only the new values, but also the economic interests of the countries participating in this integration project. Because at least two of the successor states - Armenia and Ukraine - were forced to join the customs union in 2013. In Armenia it succeeded silently, while Ukraine plunged into disaster. Obviously, no one in the West was aware that if Russia felt excluded, marginalized and encircled, it would quickly revert to the times of the Cold War. This came about by reactivating the thought patterns “we” and “them” and resorting to the old “tried and tested” Soviet procedures, which had not yet been completely overcome anyway: creating facts without regard to applicable law and the international community and, if necessary, to consolidate them with violence and massive use of propaganda.26 Izvestia, November 3, 2011: Vladimir Putin: A new integration project for Eurasia: The future launched today at: 61 # ixzz4OYYzDtQI, accessed: February 9, 2017. 1. Russia's alternative: The Eurasian Economic Union 85 Economic union with geopolitical backgrounds and goals The more Russia felt that its influence in the post-Soviet space was being restricted by the West, the more it tried to make the EAEU a bulwark of eastern political integration: uniform Citizenship, foreign policy, parliamentary cooperation, joint passport and visa systems, border protection, etc. But the resistance of the otherwise loyal Eurasian companions Belarus and Kazakhstan was considerable. They saw behind it the effort to restrict their power and state sovereignty.27 From an economic point of view, the establishment of the EAEU would probably have been of no interest to Russia. According to the statistics of the Eurasian Economic Commission, the EAEU countries only made up 7.5 percent of Russian foreign trade between 2010 and 2014. In the total foreign trade turnover of the member states, the share of trade within the EAEU was only 12% in the years 2010 to 2013, of which the largest share was accounted for by the economic exchange of the Union countries with Russia. The economic situation in the Member States is also problematic and they need massive support. Russia has shown itself ready to pay a heavy price for its political goals. In addition to Russian loans, the Eurasian Development Bank and the EAEU's Stabilization and Development Fund are also carrying out development projects in the member states, each with US $ 7 and 8 billion in start-up capital.28 Russia also bears the largest share of the EAEU's budget with 85.32 Percent. However, after the EAEU had existed for two years, the member states began to feel uneasy. The reasons for this were not only the lack of economic income in the member states, but also the temptation of some states to accept as many as possible from Russia : mmit-evrazes-v-moskve-put-k-evraziyskomu-soyuzu-ternist, accessed: February 18, 2017. 28 Center for Integration Research of the Eurasian Development Bank: Analyzes and Projects, under: urasian_Economic_Integration_RUS_1.pdf;, accessed: February 28, 2017. Part III The Eurasian Economic Union 86 making confessions. A Russia isolated from the West seems to be quite susceptible to such claims. Outlook It is difficult to take stock of previous economic activities and the as yet unrealized potential of the EAEU. This fact is not based solely on the fact that only a short time has passed since the EAEU was founded. The project was launched when Russia was already caught up in a deep economic crisis. It cannot be clarified to what extent the previously unfulfilled expectations of the member states can be attributed to the crisis or to what extent they are due to structural or other deficiencies in the EAEU. It should also not be forgotten that the market economies of the EAEU countries are afflicted with significant functional deficits29, which is an additional inhibiting factor for overall development. Today two questions are decisive for the future of the EAEU. The first question: will the EAEU manage to create a well-functioning economic area from which the member states benefit so much that it makes sense to remain in the Union? And regardless of the future domestic political developments in the respective country? An economically strong Russia as a locomotive is indispensable for this, because the economies of the EAEU member states ultimately depend on the constitution of the Russian economy. For example, according to a report by the World Bank, a 1% contraction in economic growth in Russia results in a 0.6% fall in the Armenian economy and a 0.3% fall in the Kazakh economy. The state budget of Armenia for 2016 was based on economic growth of 2.4%. However, the actual growth was only 0.5%. The main explanation for this is the economic crisis in Russia. For 2. 29 Spanger, Hans-Joachim: Revolution and stagnation. BTI regional report Post-Soviet Eurasia, Gütersloh, Bertelsmann Stiftung 2016, p. 7ff. 2. Outlook 87 A 3.2% growth is forecast for 2017, provided that Russia's economy recovers.30 A downward trend is also becoming apparent in trade turnover among the EEU states themselves. According to the statistics of the EAEU, trade turnover among the member states fell by 6.7% in 2016 - the Kyrgyz, for example, by 16.7% .31 Labor migration from the EAEU countries to Russia is high and money transfers from Russia to the countries of origin form one considerable part of the gross domestic product of these countries. Therefore, a recovery in the Russian economy would bring about an economic upswing in these countries as well. The World Bank is forecasting economic growth of 1.3% in Russia for 2017 and 1.8% for 2018. If this does not happen, however, a further deterioration in the economic situation and rising social tensions can be expected in the EAEU member states, which could also lead to domestic political turbulence. If no new approaches in Russia policy were to be developed in the EU in order to dissolve the deadlock in Russian-European relations and at least to relax the sanctions against Russia, this would worsen the economic and thus also the social situation for the total of 182.7 Bring millions of people from the EAEU countries with them. On the other hand, Russia should also be aware that the connection of these countries to the EAEU places considerable responsibility on Russia itself. It is always desirable that these countries no longer remain exposed to the negative consequences of these sanctions. The Russian side sees cooperation between the EU and EAEU as a solution for improving Russia-EU relations: the establishment of a uniform economic area between the 30 The report of the Central Bank of Armenia on the draft state budget for 2017, http: //www.parliament. am / draft_docs5 / K-1082 / K-1082_CB_ezrakacutyun.p df, accessed: January 12, 2017. 31 Press release of the Kyrgyz government, February 6th, 2017, at: https: //www.akch, accessed: March 10th. 2017. Part III The Eurasian Economic Union 88 of the EU and EAEU, which could also settle the Ukraine conflict.32 It would be worthwhile for the EU to at least examine this ultimately visionary option. Ultimately, it is not in Russia's interest to put the EAEU, which has been created with so much effort, at risk. Nor is it in the EU's interest to weaken these countries economically, including those included in the Eastern Partnership Program. Successful implementation of the reforms that the EU supports in these countries requires an economically acceptable and stable political situation. The second question: If the current situation does not change, how long will Russia be willing or able to bear the burden of the sanctions and keep the EEU members tied to the Union through loans or discounts on gas and oil prices? Russia is currently very determined to bear this burden, no matter what the cost. Despite its difficult economic situation, it recruits new members both inside and outside the post-Soviet space. In January 2017, the newly elected Moldovan President Igor Dodon announced after talks with the Russian President that Moldova wanted to be granted observer status in the EAEU. In April a memorandum was signed between Chisinau and Moscow on cooperation with the EAEU.33 The fact that Moldova has already signed the Association Agreement with the EU and still seems to be turning to the EAEU could make Moscow a perfect poster child for its EAEU expansion plans serve. The EAEU has already announced that negotiations will soon begin with Iran, Egypt, India and Singapore on a free trade area. In the case of Iran, the establishment of this zone could go even faster: A provisional agreement with restricted content, 32 TASS, October 14, 2016: The press conference of the minister in the College of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tatiana Valovaya: The cooperation between the EU and the EAEU would be the solution of the Ukraine- Enable problems at:, accessed: January 18, 2017. 33 RIA, 02/08/2017: Moldova plans to sign an agreement on cooperation with the EAEU in April, at: 8.html, accessed: 02/09/2017. 2. Outlook 89 The scope should be available as soon as possible and lead to a complete free trade area with Iran in a few years. It remains to be seen what of these plans can actually be successfully implemented. However, it cannot be ruled out that the acceleration of the expansion of EAEU cooperation in new formats, which Moscow is striving for, could overwhelm the Union, which is still on shaky feet. If the process went well, the member states of the EAEU would, however, benefit considerably from these free trade zones. The preliminary calculations of the Eurasian Economic Commission, for example, hold out the prospect of a 73% increase in exports from the EAEU countries to Iran if the project of a comprehensive free trade zone with Iran succeeds.34 But these are still plans for the future. Russia is currently mobilizing its ever-shrinking resources to make up for the deficit in its national budget. In July 2016, for example, the deputy finance minister Tatjana Nesterenko warned that rapid economic reforms would be necessary, otherwise the financial resources of the reserve fund would be exhausted by the end of 2017. Should this happen, the public service could no longer be paid.35 According to a forecast by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the National Welfare Fund would hardly have any free funds available by 2019.36 Russia's national debt is growing continuously: it was only 10.6% in 2013. of GDP, in 2016 it was already 13.2%. A further increase is forecast for 2017 and 2018.37 The low oil prices are making the economic situation even more difficult. For example, in 2016, according to the information 34 press release of the Eurasian Economic Commission December 28, 2016, under:, accessed: January 12, 2017 . 35 MK, 07/06/2016: The Ministry of Finance warns: The reserve fund will be exhausted by next year, at: / 07/06 / minfin-preduprezhdaet-rezervnyy-fond- ischerpaet-sebya-uzhe-v-sleduyush hem-godu.html, accessed: February 28, 2017. 36 Prokopenko, Alexandra: The reserve fund will be empty in 2017, the national welfare fund will last a little longer, 07/06/2016., At: economics / articles / 2016/07/06 / 648123- rezervnii-fond-zakonchitsya-2017-godu-fn b-proderzhitsya-neskolko-dolshe, accessed: February 8, 2017. 37 The Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation: The main directions of the policy of the national debt of the RF for the period 2017-2019, at: http: // minfi, accessed: 02/08/2017. Part III The Eurasian Economic Union 90 the Customs Service of the Russian Federation, oil export revenues decreased by 17.7% compared to 2015.38 If short-term material benefits remain the only incentive for EEU membership, then the prospects are anything else as promising. Because the current situation in the EAEU shows that the member states are not so keen to support the young organization in its development in order to later benefit more and in the long term from a well-functioning EAEU. People seem to be more anxious to get short-term but certain advantages for their own countries. This can also be interpreted as an expression of the uncertainty of the member states regarding the future of the EAEU. The EAEU's first practical test: Belarusian claims Since 2016, tensions between Russia and Belarus have increased. The reason is a dispute over gas and oil prices. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is of the opinion that the price of Russian gas per 1,000 cubic meters should be only US $ 73 instead of the previous US $ 132. Russia, on the other hand, relies on the contractually agreed price. Belarus actually paid less for the gas it purchased in 2016: US $ 107 per 1,000 cubic meters. As a result, Belarus owed Russia around US $ 350 million.39 Russia therefore cut back oil deliveries to Belarus. In return, the Belarusian president claimed that by joining the EAEU the country had lost US $ 15 billion due to unequal conditions. Russia, on the other hand, speaks of a loss of US $ 22 billion, which it would have suffered from supplying Belarus with duty-free oil within the last 5 years.40 Then a) 38 Gazeta, 02/08/2017: Russia's income from oil exports decreased by approx .18% down, at:, accessed: 10.03.2017. 39 RIA, February 3, 2016: Alexander Lukashenko's press conference, at: https: //, accessed: February 19, 2017. 40 Novaya Gazeta, February 3, 2017: The short version of the press conference of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, accessed at: ticles / 2017/02/04/71402-glavnyy-vopros-mozhno-vyyti : 02/05/2017. 2. Outlook 91 Russia brought the Belarusian negative balance for the gas deliveries up to date: it already amounts to US $ 600 million .41 The situation worsened again when Lukashenko came to the summit of the EEU countries in Saint Petersburg in December 2016 to whom the Customs Code was to be signed did not appear. Out of a total of five Member States, only Armenia, Kazakhstan and Russia signed the document. The reservations of the Kyrgyz President who were present were later dispelled. In order to emphasize his demands, Lukashenko informed Moscow at the beginning of 2017 that Belarus would henceforth pursue a strongly shaped multivectoral foreign policy. This is despite the fact that Belarus is economically dependent on Russia more than the other EEU member states: 90% of exported Belarusian food and 70% of industrial products are sold on the Russian market.42 The fact that Belarus is trying to exert pressure on Russia shows in which way Russia is currently in a difficult position with a view to its EAEU partners. Moscow had no choice but to show patience and forbearance towards Lukashenko, which was unusual by Russian standards. The comments from the Kremlin about Belarus were therefore also conciliatory: the package of documents from the Customs Code could be sent to Minsk so that Mr. Lukashenko could sign it soon. The controversial issues could certainly be resolved in calm and objective negotiations.43 Belarus only signed the customs code in mid-April. Due to the delayed signing, the entry into force of the customs code was postponed to 01.01.2018. Until then, President Lukashenko followed suit and, to Moscow's annoyance, reached an agreement with Brussels in 2017 to build a center for refugees in Belarus. For this, the European Kom- 41 Sputnik, 02/28/2017: Gazprom named the gas price for Europe, and Dvorkovich the sum of the Belarusian debt, at: 0170228/1027657844 / gazprom-nazval-cenu -na-gaz-v-evrope-a-dvorkovich-summ u-dolga-belarus.html, accessed: February 28, 2017. 42 Siwizkij, Arsenij, 12.12.2014: Belarus: Subdued Integration Euphoria, in: The Eurasian Economic Union: Analyzes and Perspectives from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, Hett, Felix; Szkola, Susanne Ed., Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, pp. 14-19. 43 Feliachov, Rustem, December 27, 2016: Scandal in the Eurasian family, at: https: //, accessed: February 28, 2017. Part III The Eurasian Economic Union 92 mission € 7 million. This was followed by Lukashenko's decision to introduce a visa-free regime for travelers from 80 countries with a stay of up to five days from 2017.44 Russia saw this as a threat to its national security, as the principle of freedom of movement applies between Russia and Belarus. Despite its verbal reluctance, Russia took countermeasures and established a protection zone on the border with Belarus. But the real challenge of the EAEU is not likely to be the Russian-Belarusian dispute. Because Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko have known each other too well and for too long not to come to an understanding in the end. The first signs of such a development were already evident when the two presidents met in Saint Petersburg in April 2017. The real problem of the Russian government is to ensure the continuity of the Russia-related policy of the governments of the EEU countries in the long term.The Risks of a Change of Power in the EAEU States As soon as there is a change of power in the member states, Moscow will be faced with the task of making greater efforts to keep the partner countries in the EAEU. It is true that no surprising change in power, for example through elections, is to be expected in these countries. None of the EAEU member states is what one would like to call a well-functioning democracy. According to the Bertelsmann Stiftung index, Kyrgyzstan is a heavily “defective” democracy, Armenia and Russia are moderate autocracies, Kazakhstan and Belarus are “hard” autocracies.45 The current political leaderships will most likely undertake a pre-arranged transfer of power through elections install a politician they like. Even if a change of power usually does not cause surprises, it is necessary to erb) 44 The visa-free regime applies to 39 European countries as well as to Brazil, Indonesia, USA, Japan, etc. Exceptions to this rule are those arriving by plane from Russia and the from Belarus to Russian airports. RBC, January 10, 2017: Kremlin commented on the visa-free regime in Belarus for 80 countries, at: b, accessed: January 11, 2017. 45 Note 29, p. 3ff. 2. Outlook 93 waiting for new rulers to take a change of power as an opportunity to force further concessions from Moscow to keep their countries in the EAEU. An economically ailing Russia, which also has to provide extensive financial support for the Assad regime in Syria, the separatists in eastern Ukraine and the annexed Crimea, could soon be overwhelmed. Not to mention whether Russian citizens will agree to a further decline in prosperity. The time for a regime change in the EAEU countries is likely to come soon. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled since 1991, is already 77 years old. The Kyrgyz President Almasbek Atambayev has been in power since 2011 and, according to the constitution, is limited to a one-time six-year term. In Belarus there is no change in power in sight for a long time, but that should hardly mean any relief for Moscow, because Lukashenko, who is just 63 years old and has ruled the country with a hard hand since 1994, is Russia's most strenuous partner in the EAEU. In addition, Russia is looking forward to the next presidential election in March 2018. Whether President Putin will run again, there is z. No clarity at the moment. Shortly before the 2016 Duma elections, Putin said he hadn't made up his mind yet. In addition, one would have to wait for the results of the Duma elections.46 The results of the Duma elections on September 18, 2016 were encouraging for President Putin. The ruling party of the president - "Jedinaja Rossija" (United Russia) - again won the majority in the Duma with 49.3%. According to a 2016 survey by the All-Russian Research Center for Public Opinion, 74% of citizens are willing to elect Putin as president again.47 As of April 2017, the figure was 64% for another term of Putin.48 46 Kremlin, 01.09 .2016: Interview of the Russian President, Mediaholding Bloomberg, at:,2:55:DU m, accessed: February 11, 2017. 47 Lenta, March 3, 2016: More than 70% of Russians have decided to vote for Putin in the presidential election, at: opros /, accessed: January 28, 2017 . 48 Interfax, May 2nd, 2017: More than half of Russians would like to see Vladimir Putin re-elected to office. An opinion poll of the Levada Center, under:, accessed: 08.06.2017. Part III The Eurasian Economic Union 94 However, the difficult economic situation could damage Putin's popularity until the time of the elections. Even if he did not run, there could hardly be any doubt that a new president clearly understands the need to preserve the EAEU as an institution. Moscow is likely to have the least concern about Armenia. Despite the fact that the second and thus last term of office of the incumbent President Serj Sargsyan ends in 2018, the continuity of Armenia's strong ties to Russia was already ensured by the most recent parliamentary elections in April 2017.49 49 More on this in the chapter: The domestic dimension of Russian influence in Armenia. 2. Outlook 95