Last Friday, the leaders of the former Soviet republics of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan entered into an accord strengthening the economic integration of their three nations, a step they intend to accelerate their permanent union. The plan to create the new entity -— the Eurasian Union -— was first announced in a speech delivered by on-again, off-again ruler of Russia, Vladimir Putin.
It was in the Kremlin that the three presidents gathered to commit their countries to the policy of surrendering aspects of their individual sovereignty. The plan is called the “Declaration on Eurasian Economic Integration.” Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev (photo) was quoted in the New York Times calling the project “a new and very powerful step on the path to forming a Eurasian Economic Union.”
While Vladimir Putin is credited with hatching the idea last month, the broad strokes of the U.S.S.R-lite were painted years ago. In fact, the current president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, floated the idea in the 1990s as a solution to the economic problem plaguing many of the former satellites of the Soviet Union.
In Nazarbayev’s vision, the three present participants would have been joined by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. When the first rumblings of the reunion were heard in the years immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, observers around the globe feared such a resurgence, but nearly 20 years on, such a suggestion causes hardly a ripple of interest.
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