Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agree to form customs union

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have agreed on the legal framework for a customs union. The agreement, reached at the Eurasian Economic Community summit in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe, is intended to ease tariffs and customs procedures to boost trade.

In time, other EurAsEC members are expected to join.
“The legal basis of the customs union has been created. In fact it will start functioning after all the procedures are completed, all the documents are signed by 2010. It is supposed that as soon as they are ready other members of the EurAsEC will join the customs union,” Russian President Vladimir Putin commented.

Meanwhile, members of the EurAsEC have been joined by their Armenian counterpart, and have held talks on the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). The creation of a peace-keeping task force has dominated the agenda.
The CSTO was set up to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states. The participants are seeking to deepen their military co-operation to effectively counter security threats in the region. At the summit they have agreed on a legal framework for peacekeeping forces.

President Vladimir Putin spoke about co-operation of the CSTO with the UN.
“The international contacts have been enlarged recently. This positive tendency must be reinforced. Today we have approved a draft to put to the UN General Assembly on co-operation between the UN and the CSTO. This will be on the agenda of the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly. We hope accepting the resolution will help contribute to further strengthening of partnership ties of the organisation,” the Russian leader said.

The six nations that form the Eurasian Economic Community are Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The organisation's long-term goal is to establish a common economic space.

At the summit press conference, Mr Putin also announced that Russia’s former Prime Minister, Mikhail Fradkov, has been appointed head of the Foreign Intelligence Service. Mr Fradkov resigned as the head of the government in early September. He was replaced by Viktor Zubkov.