Russia and Belarus to Collaborate on 'EU Principles' - 27 March, 2003

Twenty different issues will be discussed at the next Council of Ministers of the Russia-Belarus Union State on April 2. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced by State Secretary of the Union State Pavel Borodin at a press conference in Minsk on March 25. He said that the main topic of debate would be 'the constitution of the union state.' The joint government is expected to consider the results of the joint committee for preparing a constitution, which is headed by chairmen of the Lower Houses of Parliament in Russia and Belarus Gennady Seleznyov and Vadim Popov.

Mr Borodin believes that Russia and Belarus will integrate on 'EU principles.' The union state is expected to have 'one customs department, a common border, a joint military, a common currency and unified legislation.

Mr Borodin added that a referendum on the constitution is planned in Russia and Belarus at the end of 2003 and elections for the joint parliament will take place in 2004. 'As far as I know, Mr Putin and Mr Lukashenko have already agreed about the dates of the referendum and the elections for the joint parliament as well as the date for creating the executive bodies of the union state,' he said. 'I expect a decision will be made about the constitution at the meeting of the High State Council at the end of April.'