Eurasian integration in the former Soviet area has been drawing increased public attention. The progress of last several years includes the tripartite Customs Union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus and the next integration step is the founding treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, expected to be finalized this year. For the European Union the Eurasian project gains specific importance as a major challenge to its neighborhood policies, also as the dramatic events in Ukraine have demonstrated. However, there is an irony in the fact that in many ways the architects of Eurasian integration take the EU as their reference point and often claim that they are repeating the experience of the European Communities. The Eurasian Economic Union will be formally built around the common market principles and includes supranational institutions.
Should we take these claims at face value? Is there a possibility that Russia and other states around it could build an order based on rules and institutions rather than informal agreements and coercion? To what extent does Eurasian integration strengthen the international position of Russia and promote the welfare of its citizens. How durable can we expect this union to be?
Aliaksei Kazharski is a Ph.D. Candidate in European Studies and Policies at the Institute of European Studies and International Relations, Comenius University, Bratislava. Currently he is a Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM.