WASHINGTON – Just as Russian President Putin pushes for a customs-free economic Eurasian Union involving Russia and the countries of Central Asia, an additional prospect he sees is the creation of a Eurasian parliament, similar to the European parliament of the European Union, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The issue recently resurfaced in Russian-Kazakhstani discussions where Emukhamet Ertysbayev, a political adviser to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, admitted there have been discussions, but he doesn’t expect anything to happen immediately.
He said that there first needs to be harmonization of legislation in the Customs Union to ensure integration of their various laws
Not to be derailed by such technicalities, however, Putin is pushing full-speed ahead with the concept.
Putin and his Russian Duma (parliament) Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, already have discussed the creation of a trilateral expert commission to develop a roadmap to creation of a European Parliamentary Assembly, which would be a precursor to the Eurasian Parliament.
Naryshkin indicated that such an assembly should be up and running by January 2015.
Such an effort coincides with Russia’s attempts to place more security responsibility for the Russian-Central Asian region under the CSTO, or the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
The CSTO is comprised of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan also was a participant but suspended its membership earlier this year. Other countries which also were members but no longer are include Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The CSTO is viewed by analysts as the budding counterpart to the Western alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Putin recently was successful in modifying language to its articles to ensure that Russia, along with the other members, particularly Kazakhstan, will be helping to keep the security of the region – implicitly referring to Afghanistan.
There have been suggestions that the CSTO may want to provide peacekeeping operations for Afghanistan once U.S. and NATO troops leave the country by the end of 2014, although there are increasing indications that some U.S. troops may remain, and that’s under negotiation now.
While the notion of a CSTO deployment is being downplayed, especially in Moscow, there are discussions at various levels in member governments on that subject. Russia and the CSTO countries just completed their first “peacekeeping exercise” that assumes the deployment of CSTO troops in any future regional outbreak of violence, such as in Afghanistan.
It also gave the participants experience in establishing a unified command for the first time.
The exercise took the form of protecting humanitarian convoys, dealing with mass riots, providing first aid and detecting and disabling IEDs – improvised explosive devises. Such activities are at variance with the mission of the U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
In addition, the scenarios also took into account “international extremist and terrorist organizations” and focused on inter-ethnic conflict in a Central Asian country – a development which is rather frequent in the region.
There also was a scenario in which enemy troops captured a military base and then seized a village while CSTO members sought largely to contain the conflict.
While members will face future issues of deployment, the number of troops to commit over a sustained period of time and a political commitment to sustain the budding alliance, the members are planning more exercises in the future.
CSTO activities also provide an implicit message to NATO that Central Asia remains in Russia’s sphere of influence. At the same time, such Central Asian countries as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have signaled a desire to maintain increased political and economic ties with the West, especially the United States.
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