EU-Belarusian relations can embarrass Customs Union’s countries joining WTO
Azerbaijan, Baku, March 13 / Trend E. Kosolapova/
Complicated relations between Belarus and the European Union can embarrass the Customs Union's countries joining the WTO, Kazakh expert Andrei Chebotarev told Trend over phone on Tuesday.
"The only thing which can be affected [by EU sanctions on Belarus] in the future, is Customs Union's countries' intention to join the WTO," the Kazakh Alternative Research Center's Director Chebotarev said.
The Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus has been operating since 2010. It aims at forming a single customs zone where no duties or economic restrictions are applied, except special protective, antidumping and compensatory measures. The Common Economic Space within the Customs Union started to operate from Jan.1, 2012.
Earlier, the Customs Union's countries wanted to join the WTO together. However, this intention has not been realized. Russia signed the long-awaited agreement with Georgia that eliminated the final barrier on Moscow's membership to the WTO in Nov, 2011. Russia is expected to join the WTO in 2012. According to Kazakh authorities, Kazakhstan actively holds negotiations on the WTO and plans to join the organization in 2012 too. Belarus, in its turn, should resolve many problems to join the WTO.
However, if the EU even bans Belarusian entry into the WTO, Russia and Kazakhstan will unlikely refuse to enter the organization, Chebotarev said.
Meanwhile, EU-Belarusian relations are not the only obstacle on Custom Union's way to the WTO, Chebotarev said.
"It is difficult to understand how the Custom Union's countries plan to combine participation in this organization and the WTO, which laws contradict in some spheres," he said.
Meanwhile, EU-Belarusian relations will not reflect on Customs Union's current activity in general, Chebotarev said.
"Customs Union's activity is not aimed at cooperation with the EU, the problems are unlikely to occur. Moreover, every Customs Union's member has its own foreign policy interests and its own relations with other countries. Thus, obstacles in Belarusian relations with the EU will not reflect on Russian and Kazakh relations with Europe," Chebotarev said.
The EU blacklisted other 21 Belarusian officials in late February "over their alleged involvement in the ongoing crackdown on the country's opposition". Belarus, in response, oferred the head of the EU delegation to Belarus, Ambassador Maira Mora, and Polish Ambassador Leszek Szerepka, to leave Minsk for consultations.
More than 200 people have been already on the blacklist, including President Alexander Lukashenko, two his sons, and most of the country's top leadership. They have been banned from entering the EU and their European assets have been frozen.
Chebotarev added that Kazakhstan and Russia could take over the role of mediators in Belarus-EU relations, if there is such a request from Minsk. However, the EU is unlikely to listen to the opinion of these post Soviet countries in their foreign policy planning.