Belarus-Russia: as relations improve, vain hopes grow
In early 2018, cooperation with Russia continued the constructive trend of H2 2017, progressively resolving accumulated contradictions. However, amid improvements in both, bilateral relations and cooperation within the EEU, some state officials are ready to base the state policy on unjustified hopes that improved relations with Russia would help restoring budget revenues due to energy prices.
Despite persisting economic difficulties in member states and problems with mutual trade, 2017 was a rather successful year for the Eurasian Economic Union (as compared with previous years) and for integration efforts of Russia and Belarus within its framework. In addition, Foreign Ministers of both states noted a progress in bilateral relations, especially compared with 2016. The Russian Foreign Minister also noted some relaxation in Russia and EEU’s relations with the EU.
The parties are gradually moving towards an agreement on the last of the most important issues: visa cooperation and border control. Belarus has passed to Russia her version of the draft agreement on mutual recognition of visas.
Positive trends in cooperation with Russia have raised hopes among some representatives of the Belarusian nomenclature for revenue growth due to the difference between energy prices for Belarus and other countries in the region, and even more courageous (yet-never-materialised) hopes for the equality of prices for Belarusian and Russian enterprises. These hopes, despite the fact that the economic authorities are aware of their non-feasibility, make an effective cover for lobbying unreasonable and inefficient support for unreformed state enterprises. The economic authorities are well aware that the terms of cooperation in the oil and gas sphere would only deteriorate.