The Integration Club under the Chairman of the Federation Council, presented its Annual Report for 2013

16:01 22.02.2014 • Gregory Povolotsky , chief editor of "International Affairs" magazine

The Federation Council presented its next Annual Report of the Integration Club under the Chairman of the Federation Council to the professional community and journalists.
The Integration Club today is an informal but at the same time important institution for the implementation of the Eurasian Union project, which in two years has acquired the highest rating in the Russian expert and scientific community. I would remind you that the Integration Club under the Chairman of the Federation was established in accordance with the order of the Chairman of the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, in April 2012. The first meeting of the Integration Club, in which the concept of its activities was drawn up, took place on April 26th, 2012. The main purpose of creating the Integration Club was to develop new ideas and conceptual approaches related to the problems of integration in the post Soviet territories, and the main methodology of its work was by way of open discussions between experts. The Integration Club includes the leading Russian experts in the field of international relations and diplomacy, famous politicians, parliamentarians and scientists. From 2013, preparations were made for an annual report from the Integration Club.
The opening the presentation of the Annual Report of the Integration club for 2013 was made by the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation, Ilyas Umahanov. In his opening remarks he said that the Integration Club had held 15 meetings and 4 individual events during the past year. The proceedings of the discussions and deliberations largely formed the basis of the Annual Report that was prepared. He specifically noted that in compiling the report it was elected to choose a special, democratic form of publishing, which allowed the presentation of a wide and diverse range of opinions, sometimes even contradictory ones. "The chosen form of the final document was the most democratic, as the report contains a lot of copyrighted material. The report shows both the diversity and commonality of independent opinions on integration," said the Deputy Chairman. Mr. Umahanov specifically mentioned that the authors were not tasked with covering all issues and trends in the multifaceted integration processes within the territory of the CIS. The main attention was focused on the issues that had been discussed at previous Integration Club events. In future, work on the report is scheduled to be constructed in such a way as to focus on a small range of major and urgent integration trends. First of all, this will most likely be the interaction between the border regions of Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union. Concluding his speech, Deputy Chairman Mr. Umahanov, underlined that the document will be sent to the ministries and departments of the regions concerned, and, of course, to the academic community.

Then the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO took the floor, prominent Russian politician and diplomat Alexander Dzasokhov. He noted the high scientific quality of the preparation of the Annual Report. According to Mr. Dzasokhov it is important that the report retained a variety of opinions on the Eurasian project. If previously the question asked was how realistic was the implementation of the Eurasian project, today this project represents a most important direction of the real politics of our country. Perhaps, Mr. Dzasokhov said, the time has come for direct dialogue on the issue with the European Parliament, and the Chairman of the Integration Club Federation Council should come up with such an initiative. Another suggestion that concerned Mr. Dzasokhov was the possible name of the club. The politician proposed to call it the "Eurasian forum", because the word "Eurasian", in his opinion, should be part of the name of the Club. Mr. Dzasokhov did not avoid mentioning that he was familiar with the problems of Russian foreign policy in a Southern direction, and the importance of the Caucasus in the mainstream vector of Russian integration. According to the prominent politician and diplomat, a multi-format dialogue in the region is missing at the present time (largely due to the policies of Saakashvili). The Caucasus needs a pact for stability, and although proposals of this kind have been put forward before, insufficient consideration was given to the role of the Russian Federation. This situation must change, especially since during their deployment the integration processes cannot ignore the Caucasus. In concluding his presentation, Mr. Dzasokhov pointed out the importance of a high-level approval of public opinion in the former Soviet region, creating a process for Eurasian integration, as was indicated in the report. Mr. Dzasokhov wished further success to all those working within the Integration Club.
The floor was then given to the head of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation, K. Kosachev. The head of the Federal Agency noted that the annual report is not just a collection of words, but is the result of a large and fruitful body of work. Focusing on the main issues, Mr. Kosachev stressed that the aim of the project is the creation of a totally integrated Eurasian region without dividing lines. Unlike the Eurasian project, said Mr. Kosachev, the EU is no longer a unifying structure, and is becoming more rigid and disparate. The main attraction of the Eurasian idea is not to be a competitor, but to be an alternative. This integration has no geographical boundaries, and does not impose strict ideology. The Eurasian project has a great future. The EU experience shows that integration does not tolerate slogans, and in this respect all the details are important details, and there is painstaking work to do. According to Mr. Kosachev, the humanitarian aspect will have to be brought to the fore, as is already happening in the CIS. Mr. Kosachev proposed to use the potential of the Federal Agency for a presentation on the report.
The floor was then given to the Director of the Institute of Economics, Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Ruslan Grinberg. According to the scientist, the opportunities and risks for Eurasian integration are equal. We can observe powerful centrifugal and centripetal factors. The Post-Soviet countries realized when they starting to rapidly build their foreign economic relations with countries outside of the CIS, that "the world is not fair." This was an important moment, a moment of sobriety. While in the Eurasian project has only one unifying idea - the economy. It does not yet exist in the humanitarian sphere. There is a need for ideas for the Eurasian project: the kind of idea similar to that of "communism" in the Soviet Union or in Europe, the idea of a pan-European social project, or Charlemagne’s concept of Europe. Yet, we still have a good chance for the implementation of the Eurasian integration project, according to the Director of the Institute of Economics.
The annual report of the Integration Club, the text of which was distributed at the presentation, requires careful reading. In her opening remarks on the report the Chairman of the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko says: "Today's global trend towards regional integration, in the post Soviet regions, is a logical and mutually beneficial phenomenon for the participating countries." And further: "Undoubtedly, it has come to be understood that only the union of industrial, scientific and intellectual potential of the post-Soviet states will multiply opportunities for these countries in the complex global world, in the face of fierce competition. These ... proposals and assessments in the Annual Report of the Integration club give an idea of the complex and multifaceted topic of Eurasian integration and possible vectors for its further development. "
The first section of the report: "Eurasian Integration: Past and Present", is dedicated to Eurasian integration in the broadest sense. An attempt was made to estimate the evolution of Eurasian integration after the collapse of the USSR and the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It also analyses the state of economic cooperation between the "troika" countries, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the leaders of the integration, as well as prospects for future expansion of the integration for the development of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. The second section of the report: "Economic fundamentals and the human dimension of the Eurasian integration", is devoted to the issues of economic cooperation, the establishment of a single information and educational space, the problem of migration, integration as a factor in scientific and technological progress, as well as the Russian language as a powerful factor of Eurasian integration. This section analyzed the centrifugal and centripetal factors of the integration processes. The third section of the report examines the status and trends of legislation and the formation of a common legal space for Eurasian integration. The same section of the report addresses the relation of the WTO rules and the Customs Union. The issue was raised of the possible establishment of a Eurasian parliament. The report presents the materials from the committee of the Russian Federation Council, the work of a number of leading research centers in Russia, such as Moscow State Lomonosov University, Institute of Economics (RAS University), MGIMO of Russia, and others.

As is well known, today concrete work is being undertaken on a draft treaty on Eurasian Economic Union, and the contribution to the work by the Integration Club under the Chairman of the Federation Council in the form of the presentation of the 2013 annual report is very significant and important.


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