SINGLE ECONOMIC SPACE CAN EMERGE AS LOCOMOTIVE OF PROGRESS IN EURASIA

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YALTA (Ukraine) May 24 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin believes that the Single Economic Space (SES) may become a powerful locomotive of economic progress in Eurasia.

"Our common objective is to establish an utterly new organisation that would meet the requirements of the present day and be a powerful locomotive of economic progress throughout Eurasia," the president said as opening the SES summit.

"Our country has the necessary potential to achieve the objective," said Mr. Putin.

The member-countries have already adopted a political decision on the score and agreed on their positions, which was one of the most important stages, according to the Russian president.

"Economic integration, the free movement of commodities and services can give a powerful impetus to our economies, which will also raise their competitiveness on the global markets and help raise our people's living standards," said Mr. Putin.

Mr. Putin believes that by almost simultaneously ratifying the founding agreement the four countries showed that they are all interested in such an economic organisation.

President Putin said the four leaders had held an informal meeting the day before and discussed the most crucial issues related to SES development and proved that an open, constructive dialogue promoted progress and efficient solutions.

President Putin believes that by 2005-2006 the countries will reach specific agreements on the majority of issues of principle importance, whereas some of the agreements can be reached in the very near future.

He believes the prime objective at the moment is to create an efficient legal basis for the Single Economic Space.

The president added that the countries had, above all, to agree on their foreign trade polices, fix common customs tariffs, come to terms on a single competitive environment and a single control body.

"Once we have coordinated our positions on these issues the four countries will support ensuing decisions," said Mr. Putin.

The president said it was necessary to task experts with drafting relevant documents by the end of 2004.

Mr. Putin also warned against protracting the signing of those documents.

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