The presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed Friday a package of agreements aimed at moving the former Soviet republics closer together, including the one about the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed issues related to the Customs Union that groups the three nations as well as the next phase of their integration -- to create the EEU by 2015.
"We have made another powerful move toward creation of the Eurasian Economic Union, which undoubtedly will define the future of our countries," Medvedev said after talks with his two counterparts.
The Russian president thanked Nazarbayev who, in Medvedev's words, coined the idea of the EEU in 1990s, and Lukashenko who has initiated the current meeting.
Besides the EEU treaty, the leaders also signed a declaration about the Eurasian economic integration and the Treaty on Eurasian Economic Commission among other papers.
"The priority task now is to provide a free movement of goods, capitals, workers in our space and, in prospective, coordinated currency and macro-economic policy," Medvedev said.
He added that the Eurasian Economic Commission, the executive body of the EEU, has been open for other Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) members to join, saying that the EEU would avoid problems the European Union came across lately.
"Our multifaceted cooperation is a great mutual resource and this is why our partners in the EurAsEC (Eurasian Economic Community) and the CIS show interests in the new integration structure," Medvedev said.
After the meeting, Kazakh President Nazarbayev proposed that the standing bodies of the EEU could be located in Moscow, "taking into account Russia's intellectual and economic weight."
Belarusian President Lukashenko said that the three countries' integration will not threaten the sovereignty of each of the country.
"We clearly stated that we are not losing sovereignty," he said.
The presidents agreed to appoint Russian Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko as the head of the Eurasian Economic Union's board.
The agreements reached in Moscow will enter into force after being ratified by the parliaments of the three countries.
The tripartite Customs Union became fully operational on July 1, 2010. Its member states -- Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan -- have agreed to officially launch the Common Economic Space on January 1, 2012.
The Eurasian Economic Union was initiated by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in October.
According to Putin's initiative, the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union should gradually transform itself into the Eurasian Economic Union, which is expected to become a bridge between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.