Russian Academician Sergei Glazyev, in one of his several year-end articles on the potential of Eurasian economic integration, made the bold proposal that countries such as Greece, Cyprus, and even Turkey, would be better off if they affiliated with the Eurasian Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union that is currently in formation. The article, titled “Who Stands to Win? Political and Economic Factors in Regional Integration,” appeared in English Dec. 27 in Russia in Global Affairs and in that publication’s Russian edition this month. Like his article in The National Interest the same week, this article documented the advantages to the economy of Ukraine from working with the Customs Union, in contrast to the looting it would experience under an EU free-trade regime.
Glazyev, who formerly was deputy secretary of the Eurasian Economic Community and now is an adviser to President Vladimir Putin, then outlined some of the most shocking cases of destruction of the real economy, experienced by the East Central European countries that joined the EU during the 2000s, as well as by Greece. Here are the highlights he listed:
“Greece. As a result of the reforms carried out on the EU’s demand, cotton production plunged by half, and production quotas in agriculture hit local wine-making hard. The famous Greek shipbuilding industry has practically ceased to exist: Greek shipowners have purchased 770 vessels abroad since the country joined the European Union. …
“Hungary has practically liquidated the production of once popular Ikarus buses, whose output in the country reached 14,000 units a year in the best years.
“Poland shut down 90 percent of its coal-mining companies, employing more than 300,000 people, after joining the EU in 2004. Seventy-five percent of Polish coal miners have lost their jobs. Poland’s shipbuilding is in deep crisis. The large Gdansk shipyard, which built the largest number of vessels in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, is now divided into two companies that are idle. Dozens of smaller shipbuilding enterprises have had to be shut down and their personnel has left for Western Europe. Poland’s foreign debt was 99 billion dollars when it joined the EU; in early 2013 it reached 360 billion dollars.
“Latvia has completely lost its electronic and car-making industries.
“Lithuania’s livestock has been cut by 75 percent, as local residents have stopped keeping cows following the introduction of milk production quotas. On the EU’s demand, Lithuania has shut down the Ignalina nuclear power plant, thus making itself dependent on power imports (and in need of one billion euros for dismantling the Ignalina plant).
“Estonia’s livestock has been reduced five-fold [by 80 percent], with agriculture reoriented to producing biofuels. The machine-building plant and the Volta plant in Tallinn, which used to produce power-generation equipment, have been closed. On the EU’s demand, Estonia has slashed power generation by almost two-thirds, from 19 billion kilowatt-hours to seven billion kilowatt-hours.
“EU membership has hit fisheries in the Baltic States due to EU fishing quotas and so-called ‘norms of solidarity’ in using European water resources. In 2007, the European Commission fined Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for attempts to build stocks of food in order to curb prices.”
Given such a track record of “deplorable results,” Glazyev wrote, there can be no serious argument that association with the EU by the six countries targeted by its so-called Eastern Partnership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) would benefit them whatsoever. Rather, “unbiased analysis reveals purely political motives behind the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy, aimed at blocking opportunities for former Soviet republics to participate in Eurasian economic integration with Russia. The anti-Russian essence of this policy is clearly seen in consistent efforts by politicians and secret services of NATO member-states to interfere in the internal affairs of the newly independent states, ferment anti-Russian propaganda and foster anti-Russian political forces. All ‘color’ revolutions inspired by the West in the post-Soviet space were rooted in frenzied Russophobia and aimed at preventing integration with Russia.”
One response, according to Glazyev, “could be to invite countries discriminated against by EU supra-national bodies, into Eurasian integration.” Greece and Cyprus would be the top priorities, with Cyprus serving “as a pilot project for transition from European to Eurasian integration, especially as its economic reliance on Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States has become critical after the bankruptcy of its banking system. Greece is likely to face the humiliating procedure of secularization and alienation of the property of the Orthodox Church and the state in favor of European creditors.” Both countries, he pointed out, have close cultural and business ties with Russia. He noted that Kazakstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has mentioned Turkey as “a welcome participant in Eurasian integration.”
Though such affiliations might seem unrealistic because of the countries’ “external commitments to the EU,” Glazyev suggested: “A constructive way out of the growing contradictions between the alternative integration processes in Eurasia would be to de-politicize them into mutually beneficial economic cooperation. But Euro-Atlantic officials do not seem prepared to give up their claims to hegemony in international relations, so this option looks unrealistic at present. It looks like one has to wait and see a worsening of the Euro-Atlantic integration crisis before it becomes possible for countries of Europe and Asia to accept Eurasian principles of equal and mutually advantageous cooperation.”