70% OF RUSSIANS SUPPORT EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION

Vestnik Kavkaza, Russia
July 4 2014

4 July 2014 - 11:56am

By Vestnik Kavkaza

Yesterday the VCIOM survey on the attitude of Russian citizens toward
the Eurasian Economic Union was presented in Moscow. According to the
survey, 70% of Russian citizens view positively the establishment
of the Eurasian Economic Union. It should be noted that the survey
was the first in two years that reflected the position of Russian
society toward the integration processes which are going on in
the Eurasian economic space. Yulia Yakusheva, the director of the
political scientific center "North-South," commented on tge results
of the survey for Vestnik Kavkaza

- What aspects of the Eurasian Union's activity were touched on by
the survey?

- The survey didn't ask the respondents whether they are aware of
the processes in post-Soviet space or what the essence of Eurasian
integration is. However, it is clear that Russian citizens view the
cooperation between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus positively. That's
why the percentage is high - 70%. The VCIOM considered the ages of
the respondents. And we can see that the older generation supports the
idea more than younger people. People aged 18-24 showed less support.

The results are predictable, as the older generation often misses
the USSR and cooperation with the post-Soviet states is considered
to be a revival of the social model, the political model which used
to exist in the Soviet Union. Of course, young people demand more
serious motives which will determine the level of their support of
the integration processes in Eurasia. I think it means we need to
work with the younger group, first of all in the information sphere.

Moreover, the survey touched on the issue of a possible capital
of the Eurasian Economic Union. The question was: "The President of
Kazakhstan suggested making Yekaterinburg or Astana the capital of the
Eurasian Union." The majority of the Russians supported Yekaterinburg,
Moscow took second place, and Astana is only in third place. We see
that Russian citizens want the capital of the Eurasian Union to be
in Russia.

I think the most interesting aspect of the survey is about extension
of the Eurasian Economic Union. Respondents chose a country of the
post-Soviet space which could be a potential member of the Eurasian
Union and its membership would bring maximum benefits to the Union. It
is interesting that Armenia took first place. It is explainable, as
Armenia is preparing for accession to the Eurasian Union. It seems
Russian citizens orient toward the information space, toward the
information that Armenia is ready to join the organization. Azerbaijan
is in second place. And it's a surprise, as Azerbaijan hasn't agreed
to join the Eurasian Union. As you know, at the moment Azerbaijan is
considering various forms of cooperation with the Union, but nobody
speaks about its membership. It means Russian citizens view positively
Azerbaijan as a member of the Eurasian Union, because it is the most
developed country in the region. Ukraine got only 10% of support and
turned out to be lower than Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the rating
of potential members. It seems the information space influences the
attitude. Mass media messages show that Ukraine is aimed at Europe
in its foreign policy and doesn't plan to join the EaEU.

- Have similar surveys been conducted in other countries participating
in the process?

- I have no information on results in Belarus. I know that
Kazakhstan conducts many such surveys. They were not always
organized by social structures, but we can sum up certain results. In
Kazakhstan common citizens, experts, and analysts follow development
of integration processes in the Eurasian space attentively, as they
believe that establishment of the EaEU is crucial for their foreign
policy. Results of their surveys are similar to the Russian one. The
level of support for the EaEU in Kazakhstan is 55-85%. 55% were the
results of a recent survey which was conducted on the internet. It
means that the level of support for integration processes among users
of the internet is not high. 85% were the results of the KISI survey
(Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the
Republic), it really reflects attitudes in the society. In Kazakhstan
a question on awareness of the EaEU's activity was asked. 85% of
Kazakhstan citizens know what the EaEU is. The high level of support
of integration processes is connected with economic prospects.

However, 7% of Kazakhstan's citizens are afraid of political dependence
on Russia. I think this is connected with the lack of information on
the EaEU, even in the expert community. Nobody emphasizes that all
sides will have equal rights and powers in the Union, the countries
will have an equal number of votes in making decisions. There is no
sense in thinking about Russia's dominance.

Moreover, there will be no political institutes in the EaEU. This is
an economic union, in which the interests of all participants will
be considered.

- Has a survey been conducted in Armenia?

- Yes, it has. I don't know whether the survey was held last
month. According to my information, 86% of Armenian citizens support
joining the EaEU. We can say that public opinion in Armenia is
pro-Russian and pro-Eurasian.

- One of the advantages of such a space is an opportunity to travel
within the space freely. Are such questions included in the survey?

- Unfortunately, the survey didn't focus on the advantages which
Russian citizens could get after establishment of the EaEU. Probably
an opportunity to work in Belarus and Kazakhstan was mentioned there,
but the issue is not covered. According to the survey, the question
is important for Kazakhstan - about 22% of respondents positively
view the opportunity to work in Russia and free movement of goods,
services, capital and labor force.

http://vestnikkavkaza.net/analysis/society/57248.html



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