Tag Archives: Customs Union

Moscow: Eurasian Economic Union Name Dispute Rumbles on

8 May

More top-level meetings are taking place in Moscow as the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan talk with other possible member states about the expanding Eurasian Economic Union project. The sides are believed to be trying to come up with an acronym for the regional grouping.

Kazakhstan is said to favour KRB while Belarus is said to be leaning towards BRK. Russia has proposed Armenia be fast-tracked into the fledgling economic union to bring a much-needed vowel to the possible acronyms. Kazaxia likes the sound of BARK, other observers are keen on KRAB.

This ‘A’ is a significant development as ‘U’ is currently off the agenda as it doesn’t look like Ukraine or Uzbekistan will be joining any time soon, and Azerbaijan won’t join anything that involves its arch rival Armenia.

Further complications could be on the horizon as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are possible contenders for membership. It is not clear where these letters would go. Syria is an outside bet for inclusion in this intercontinental economic club – an ‘S’ is always useful, as any scrabble player knows.

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“F**K Detroit:” Forgotten US city on the verge of joining Putin’s Customs Union

7 Mar

The Spektator, Kyrgyzstan’s  finest “rarely published guide to what’s happening in and around Bishkek”, has kindly contributed the following piece on the escalating crisis in Ukraine. Is Detroit set to be the next  Crimea, despite what Martha Brill Olcott thinks … 

DETROIT, March 7, (The Spektator) – The mood on the streets in Detroit, Michigan, is tense. After pitch battles waged in industrial scrap yards between pro-Union and pro-Eurasian Union paramilitary forces, interim Mayor Dave Bing announced today that Motor City will be holding a referendum on joining the Moscow-inspired trade bloc comprising Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus in the coming weeks. President Barack Obama’s administration in Washington has registered its “relative concern” at the news.

The announcement of the referendum, which most agree will see Detroit secede from the United States and become a puppet state of the Russian Federation, is being portrayed by international media as yet another victory for Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin over his geopolitical foes on Capitol hill. Municipal officials in Buffalo and Allentown were rumored to be considering their options when Kazaxia went to press, while William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh caused waves on Thursday after telling journalists he wanted his city “to be the next Donetsk”. Peduto denies the comment showed “separatist intent”.

With Russia standing accused of parachuting Slavic grandmas into Detroit in order to vote ‘yes’ in the upcoming vote, the White House released a weakly-worded statement via a spokesperson today, reminding Vladimir Putin that “Detroit is not the Crimea. This is a city located fairly close to cities we consider under our protection, such as Chicago. The United States government is committed to resolving the political crisis in its former industrial heartlands through wishy washy diplomacy and empty bluster.”

Meanwhile, the benefits of annexation/integration for Detroit’s struggling economy are questionable. Immediately after the referendum announcement, Russia’s state-owned manufacturing giant RustBelt pledged to spend “several thousand rubles” revamping Detroit’s disused steelworks, while President of KrapKar, Vladislav Aragonov, has promised similar sums to revive the city’s decrepit auto industry. In comments reminiscent of Henry Ford, Aragonov told citizens of Detroit they would be able to have “any car they want, as long as it’s a Zhiguli classic.”

But despite the Eurasian Union’s seeming lack of appeal, Dave Bing, an NBA Hall of Famer now serving as the city’s mayor for the second time since retiring from professional basketball in 1978, has emerged as an unexpected Kremlin ally. “President Putin is a judo black belt. I want to get Detroit’s kids off the streets and back onto the basketball courts,” Bing told Kazaxia today by telephone. “President Putin tells me Russia doesn’t have a drug problem. That is why I am urging citizens to vote ‘yes’ in this referendum.”

As worried Americans made calls for the US army to get off its ass and do something about the situation, Eurasian Affairs commentator Frederick Upstarrt moaned to Kazaxia that the lack of response to the Detroit crisis was “yet another sign that President Obama is prepared to abandon parts of the world he doesn’t care about to Moscow’s aggression.”

Upstarrt’s reference to U.S indifference may have more than a grain of truth to it. In an FSB-intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the governor of Michigan, Jack Snideman March 5, Nuland is alleged to have said: “This is a city the UN should be helping glue back together, and, you know, f**k Detroit.”

Kazakhstan: A Young Country on the Threshold of Maturity

29 Apr

Thanks are due once again to Lord Venal who has contributed this opinionated piece to Kazaxia.

This December will see the twentieth anniversary of the epic struggle of Kazakhstan to gain its independence from the Soviet Union. In just 20 short years the country has managed a truly amazing turnaround to become the economic powerhouse of Central Asia and the undisputed champion of democracy in the region.

I feel that it is high time that the world stood up and took notice of these achievements. Kazakhstan, which likes to describe itself as a ‘young country’, should be recognised as the mature country it has bloomed into and inducted into the ranks of GoGUN (The Group of Grown-Up Nations) without any further ado. Then Kazakhstan’s politicians can stop banging on about it being a ‘young country’ and start taking some responsibility for their own actions.

Like any adolescent, Kazakhstan has spent hours in front of the mirror agonising over its image. It has lavished considerable sums on brushing up this image with glossy spreads appearing in international media outlets and is now seen around the world as a maturing, go-ahead nation with a very bright future.

Kazakhstan’s politicians often talk about it being a ‘young country’ but this should not mask the remarkable steps that have taken place in its short lifetime. From inauspicious beginnings, the economic miracle led by President Nursultan Nazarbayev has helped ensure the country’s smooth transition to a market economy.

On the political front there has been unprecedented stability with one leader occupying the highest office in the land for all those 20 years and as the recent elections showed his popularity is in no way diminished after he received an amazing 95.55% of the popular vote in April 2011.

Let’s compare this with other ‘young countries’ that emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union. If we look at Lithuania we will see it has had a chaotic transition with no less than seven presidents since 1990. One of those, Rolandas Paksas, was impeached and removed from office in 2004. Estonia has fared little better with three presidents thus far.

Kazakhstan is a founder member of the up-and-coming Customs Union with Russia and Belarus, in stark contrast all that Lithuania and Estonia could come up with is membership of the debt-ridden European Union.

Kazakhstan is increasingly being seen as a leader on the world stage. It is lucky for the Organization of the Islamic Conference that Astana will chair this august body from late June. With the Arab world torn asunder by rebellions, Kazakhstan’s valuable experience as head of the OSCE in 2010 will hold it in fine stead here. After successfully dealing with the crisis on its doorstep in Kyrgyzstan last year, there is no better choice to lead the Islamic world on the path to reconciliation and stability.