Eurasian leaders discuss ways to boost cooperation in regional bloc

Eurasian leaders on Thursday discussed ways to further boost cooperation in the regional Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Chairing a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised cooperation in the union, saying it was picking up pace and that the body was making progress as one of the independent and self-sufficient centers of the emerging multipolar world. Putin noted that cooperation in the EAEU was built on principles of mutual benefit, taking into account the interests of each member and focusing on sustainable economic growth. He urged his counterparts to take action so the citizens of any of the five countries feel "at home" while in another EAEU member for work, study, or business. Calling attention to financial infrastructure to ensure smooth transactions within the EAEU, Putin proposed the creation of a Eurasian rating agency. The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council was also attended by the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Belarus, as well as Armenia's prime minister. Development of transport lines During his address, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev suggested that the bloc could create new international transport arteries. Tokayev said the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200-kilometer (4,473-mile) multimode transportation network between India and Europe, needed to be developed in conjunction with the Trans-Caspian route. "I am sure that our economic union will ultimately become a link between Europe and Asia, the global South and North. We welcome the intention of the Russian Federation to form corridors in the direction of China, India, Pakistan, Iran, the states of the Middle East and Southeast Asia," Tokayev said. For his part, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev noted that his country was located at the intersection of the East-West and North-South transport routes, and that its transportation and logistics infrastructure allowed movement "in any direction." Aliyev underlined that Azerbaijan also provided shipbuilding opportunities to its Caspian neighbors, and that "work and active negotiations" were underway to place orders at a shipyard in Baku. In his remarks at the meeting, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev highlighted the importance of stepping up work to build alternative transportation corridors and invited EAEU countries to join work on a railway project involving Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov proposed that countries pay "special attention to ensuring access to transport corridors leading to seas for the landlocked countries of the EAEU." Eliminating barriers to trade On commerce, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said implementing a free trade agreement between the bloc and Iran should be a priority, saying it would lead to "a real expansion of trade cooperation with third countries" once it came into effect. Pashinyan also underlined the prospect of "promising" cooperation with Egypt, India, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), stating that Yerevan was ready for "constructive dialogue" on creating a common gas market within the EAEU. In his address, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko spoke about the necessity to eliminate all barriers within the EAEU space. "The creation of a full-fledged economic union remains a priority for all of us. Everyone notes that there is progress on this issue, but I remain in the same position - there should be no barriers or restrictions at all," Lukashenko stressed. Meanwhile, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon expressed his country's interest in boosting cooperation with EAEU member and observer states "in all areas of mutual interest." Aliyev also said Azerbaijan has been developing cooperation with EAEU members - with the exception of Armenia - for the past 30 years, with trade turnover increasing to $4.7 billion as of last year. Mirziyoyev said Tashkent was ready to continue joint work to simplify trade procedures and create conditions for a "radical increase" in trade between EAEU members, facilitated by the adoption of an agreement on eliminating technical barriers. Established in 2014 by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, the EAEU is today an economic bloc of five post-Soviet states in Eurasia with the inclusion of Armenia and Kyrgyzstan in 2015.

Source: Anadolu Agency