The Russian ambassador to the European Union has, on the founding-day of the new Moscow-led Eurasian Union, invited members of the European Union to abandon their close ties and pending trade agreement with the United States and instead join with Russia.
The invitation came alongside a dose of ridicule aimed at the United States, including a jibe at America’s food health standards, which are often quite different to those in Europe. Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Kazakhstan signed the new Eurasian Union into existence on New Years day, which replaces a former customs union, and Kyrgyzstan will join later.
Russia had initially hoped the Ukraine would join the Union at its inception, however a strong preference for joining the European Union among citizens of the West of the nation led to a bitter civil war last year that has seen the nation split into a number of factions and territories. Despite that, the Russian ambassador didn’t believe there was any reason why the Ukraine crisis should prove a stumbling block to Eurasian and European Union integration.
According to Russian-backed news service Sputnik, the Eurasian Union “intends to avoid some of the mistakes that have blighted and burdened the European Union — in particular, the imbalances in migration that have created serious domestic problems for member states such as UK that attract large numbers of migrant workers from other, poorer EU countries”.
Speaking to European news service EUobserver, Russian ambassador Vladimir Chizhov said: “Our idea is to start official contacts between the EU and the EAEU as soon as possible. Chancellor Angela Merkel talked about this not long ago. The EU sanctions [on Russia] are not a hinder”.
“I think that common sense advises us to explore the possibility of establishing a common economic space in the Eurasian region… We might think of a free trade zone encompassing all of the interested parties in Eurasia”.
“Do you believe it is wise to spend so much political energy on a free trade zone with the USA while you have more natural partners at your side, closer to home? We don’t even chlorinate our chickens”, a reference to American food manufacturing processes.
The offer to the European Union, which may have been made more in the spirit of political grandstanding than earnest sincerity will play upon fears among many in Europe who are sceptical of the forthcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States. Intended to open a new era of free trade, the “secretive” deal has caused concern over the effects it may have upon food safety regulations and the National Health Service (NHS).
It is alleged the primary beneficiary of the TTIP would be American companies rather than European taxpayers, an accusation that has dogged the agreement through its development.