President Vladimir Putin: Dear colleagues!
Yesterday we discussed the central questions regarding our next steps in building the Common Economic Space. Once again we received confirmation that a frank and constructive dialogue is the way for us to advance and find effective solutions.
We are all united by a common aim, that of creating a qualitatively new kind of integrating union that meets modern demands, a union that will not only make our countries stronger but will become a driving force for economic progress throughout the whole of Eurasia.
I am convinced that our countries do have the necessary potential to make this happen. Of course, we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we have already got through together one of the most important stages of taking political decisions and coordinating our positions. We have gathered here today, essentially, to sum up the completion of this stage of our work.
We share a practical common interest in economic integration. This can be seen in the fact that our four countries’ parliaments ratified the Agreement on Creating a Common Economic Space at almost the same time.
I think that our main task now is to move as rapidly as possible to give the Common Economic Space a working legal foundation. In this respect I share Leonid Danilovich Kuchma’s view that we should instruct experts to draft the relevant documents by the end of this year. We should not delay either with their signature. Of course, Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko is also right in saying that all of our agreements should be practical in content. I think that by 2005–2006, we should have concrete agreements on most of the questions of principle and in some cases should have agreements in the very near future, including on pursuing a common foreign trade policy, setting common customs tariffs, forming a unified competitive environment and creating a single regulatory body. There is no doubt that we will arrive at coordinated positions on all of these questions.
I want to emphasise that I have no doubts about this and I am convinced that decisions so vital for our countries and our economies will find support from all four participating countries. I am certain that economic integration and free movement of goods, services, capital and labour will become a powerful driving force for economic growth and modernisation in our countries. It will make us more competitive on world markets and, what is especially important, it will enable us to improve the living standards and the quality of life of our citizens and will create new opportunities for their creative and business activity.
I would like to thank our Ukrainian colleagues and you, Leonid Danilovich, for your hospitable welcome and for organising our work together here. Thank you very much.