The drama of the Russia-Belarus union

Everybody wants the union, but nobody wants to go for it

The Russian government is still dealing with the problem of the union between Russia and Belarus. Russia is still pressing Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko regarding the issue of the introduction of the joint currency: the Russian ruble.

The National Bank of Belarus has already stated its readiness to become the second issuing center of the unified state. Now, it is for politicians to do the rest now. Lukashenko is very limited in his possible moves, as he has no room. It seems that Lukashenko’s capitulation can be costly for Russia.

The Russia-Belarus integration process is continuing, despite any political complications. At least Russian officials are doing their best to make it proceed according to plan, as if there was no ultimatum from the Russian president and Lukashenko’s hysterics. The Belarussian president said that the offer from his Russian colleague was humiliating and unacceptable.

Russian Prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov declared at today’s session of the government that it is possible to instate the joint currency during the coming year. As he said, all of Russia's branches of power stand for the integration and the introduction of the joint currency. For the time being, the ball is in the Belarussian court.

The problems of Russia and Belarus look like a conversation between a blind and a deaf man. Russian and Belarussian political institutions exchange their harsh statements. The press writes about possible losses over “unified relations.” Alexander Lukashenko is greatly offended by Moscow, and then it turns out that the Belarussian president was misunderstood. Then the story replays.

Relations between the parties of the union regarding the issue of a single currency cannot be called perfect either. Russia is acting as if everything has been settled, but this does not make this process proceed faster. Alexander Lukashenko said a month ago that Belarus supports for the institution of the joint currency as well. Lukashenko was unhappy about the absence of a coordinated mechanism. The Belarussian president is sure that the national currency is strictly connected with the issue of sovereignty. Sovereignty implies the right to issue money. This is the bone of contention.

Alexander Lukashenko suspects that Moscow wants to place Belarus under conditions of currency inequality. For this, the National Bank of Belarus should remain an independent issuing center, and this would not be good for Russia. The economy of the country cannot allow Belarus to raise as many loans as it wishes at Russia’s expense. Lukashenko does not agree to the Belarussian National Bank becoming an ordinary branch office of the Russian Central Bank.

Obviously, one has to force Lukashenko to agree to the final political unification with Russia. Certain economic questions and their answers come second. However, the Secretary of the Unified State, Pavel Borodin, is full of optimism. He says that the Russian ruble will be the only currency for both Russia and Belarus no later than two years. Then there will be a joint union, a joint president, and a joint parliament. Borodin does not explain where all these things are going to come from.

Akhtyam Akhtyrov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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