MOSCOW – The member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, made up of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, must expand integration further, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday during a summit in the Russian city of Sochi.
“It is important to continue developing integration processes,” Putin said in his address.
The Russian president, who holds the rotating EAEU presidency this year, said there are “good opportunities” for the alliance’s members to develop closer cooperation in areas such as “atomic and renewable energy, ecology, medicine, space, tourism and sport.”
“The Russian presidency aims to strengthen our union, give an additional boost to the rapprochement of five countries’ economies and, more importantly, contribute to the complete development of our states,” Putin said.
Among the priorities for the bloc, Putin also highlighted the increase in efforts to create common markets for goods and services, as well as the development of trade and investment ties.
The Russian leader also spoke about the importance of developing members states’ financial and credit policies.
The EAEU summit in Sochi is the first meeting this year of the leaders of the bloc, whose members are five former Soviet countries.
Before the summit, Putin held individual meetings in Sochi with the leaders of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to discuss bilateral relations.
During his first meeting with Armenia’s new prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, Putin reaffirmed Moscow’s commitment to promoting cooperation with Yerevan.
For his part, Pashinyan, who came to power after leading for weeks the largest anti-government protests in the history of Armenia, emphasized the “strategic importance” of relations with Russia and said he was willing to boost bilateral contacts.
In turn, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev assured that his country and Russia will always work together to achieve “progress in all areas.”
Putin added that Astana is not only a “strategic ally” for Moscow but also “one of its closest partners.”