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Kyrgyzstan has highest level of public’s support for Eurasian integration among EAEU countries

AKIPRESS.COM - EAEU flags The fourth wave of public opinion surveys on integration preferences in the CIS countries suggests that the "integration core" of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) continues to consolidate, finds the EDB Integration Barometer, a yearly research conducted by Eurasian Development Bank's (EDB) Centre for Integration Studies.

In Kazakhstan, Russia and the Kyrgyz Republic 78-86% of the population support the Eurasian integration. At the same time, in Belarus and Armenia the rate of approval of Eurasian integration reduced in the recent year. In 2015, over 11,000 people from nine CIS region countries - Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine - took part in the poll.

The poll showed that most people in the EAEU member states feel positive about Eurasian economic integration. The level of support for the countries' participation in the EAEU in Russia and Kazakhstan is 78% and 80%, respectively. At the same time, the citizens of Armenia and Belarus demonstrated a lower level of support for their countries' participation in the union (56% and 60% respectively, or 8 percentage points (p.p.) down on 2014). In Armenia, the number of those who feel indifferent or negative about the country's participation in the EAEU is also growing.

The Kyrgyz Republic records the highest level of the public's support for Eurasian integration among the EAEU countries (86%). Among the non-EAEU countries, the highest support for joining the union is recorded in Tajikistan (72%). This suggests that the further expansion of integration between the EAEU and Tajikistan is desirable and expedient, as well as with Uzbekistan where 68% of the population wanted to see their country in the Customs Union in 2014.

In Moldova, the percentage of people who want their country to join the EAEU grew to 53% in 2015 (compared to 49% in 2014) and the number of those who do not deem these developments as useful for the country or who are indifferent reduced to some extent.

In Ukraine, the percentage of those who support the country's possible joining the EAEU went down to 19% (31% in 2014) and 60% of the population are against this possibility. In Georgia, the number of citizens who support its possible accession to the EAEU reduced to 41% (52% in 2014).

During the poll of 2015, the respondents from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia were asked about their attitudes towards the creation of some common institutes within the EAEU such as the single currency, common laws, a common army, and a common governance body. The research has shown that there is no single position on these issues among the population of all the four EAEU member countries. An exception is Armenia where 55% of people are for the single currency. Another exception is the attitude towards establishing a common army in Belarus and Russia where most people are against this possibility (57% and 53% respectively). As for the respondents' choice of countries as potential sources of foreign capital, the CIS countries, the EU and the group of "other countries" were mentioned in approximately equal proportions on average (43%, 43% and 47% of respondents, respectively).

In Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, the population is mostly orientated towards capital inflows from the CIS countries. The people of the Kyrgyz Republic also prefer this direction. As in the polls of 2012-2014, Russia is the leader among other CIS countries as a perceived source of foreign capital. It is preferred by residents of all post-Soviet countries (37% of respondents on average), except Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova. Russia, as a source of foreign capital, is especially popular in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, where it was mentioned by almost 70% and 59% of respondents respectively. Russia's positions also strengthened in Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which showed weak, but positive dynamics.

At the same time, in Ukraine Russia's attractiveness as a source of foreign capital in 2015 worsened significantly: for the first time over four years this indicator went down to 9% (compared to 27% and 21% in 2013 and 2014, respectively).

In Russia, preferences are with foreign investors and capital inflows from foreign countries, the most popular being China (32%) and Japan (18%). Around 30% of Belarus' population would also prefer investment from China (37%).

The leading partnering countries in the area of research and technology are those beyond the EU and the CIS region, i.e. "other countries." These were mentioned by almost half of respondents on average (53%). This group is followed by the EU countries (44%) and, with a significant gap, the CIS countries (40%). This difference is because many respondents mentioned countries with innovative economies: Japan, the U.S. and China. The "other countries" cluster has the highest specific weight, compared to other groups, in Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus and Armenia (in 2014 in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan as well).

Among the CIS countries, the preferred partners for research and technology are Russia (35%), Germany (36%), and Japan (31%).

Russia is perceived as the most attractive partner for research and technology in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic (over 50% of mentions in each country), as well as in Kazakhstan and Belarus (49% of mentions). The lowest figures for this indicator were recorded in Georgia and Ukraine, where the preference of Russia as a research and technology partner halved to a record low of 11% (similarly to some other preferences).

Almost a half of respondents in Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova and a bit more than 33% of the population of Russia and Armenia are interested in Germany as a key research and technology partner. Japan seems the most attractive partner in this area for the population of Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus (between 40% and 50% of responses). Partnership with the U.S. is preferred in Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia (between 38% and 42% of responses) and with China in Russia and Belarus (43% and 38%, respectively). China's position as a research and technology partner has significantly strengthened in Russia.

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