MINSK, May 31 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday urged Ukraine to take further steps toward joining the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
On Friday, Ukraine signed a memorandum to deepen cooperation with the union and got an opportunity to take part in its activities, but stopped short of gaining observer status.
Ukraine has been reluctant to join the union because doing so might prevent it from clinching a free-trade agreement with the European Union.
“This is a first step, an essential step, a necessary step, and we are pleased with it. But it may also be the last step if no further actions are taken,” Medvedev said Friday.
He said the governments willing to join the Eurasian Economic Union should be fully aware that “they will have to make an array of difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions.”
“If this doesn’t happen, then, of course, we will continue our friendship, improve our bilateral relations, but there will be no common market. We hope that strategic decisions will be made with regard to that issue,” the Russian premier said.
He said Russia was willing to offer as much integration to its partners in the common economic space as they were ready to take.
On December 18, 2011, leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed an agreement to create the Eurasian Economic Commission, a new supranational body to manage economic integration of the three former Soviet republics. The Customs Union came into effect the following month.
Then-President Medvedev said in his state-of-the-nation address to both houses of parliament on December 22, 2011, that Russia intended to intensify economic integration in the post-Soviet space and expected the Eurasian Economic Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan to come into existence by 2015.
Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan