BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan is expressing increasing angst because it is seeing only aggravation with no discernible benefit after joining the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in 2015.
In addition, it and neighbour Kazakhstan are enduring friction in their economic ties, even though the Kremlin promoted the EEU as a vehicle of harmony and prosperity for all its members.
Kyrgyzstan is considering pulling its officials out of the EEU and boycotting the EEU's operations, Economy Minister Sanjar Mukanbetov said at a June 9 hearing of the parliamentary Committee on International Affairs, Defence and Security, 24.kg reported.
Back-up of trucks and bad blood
In late May, after lifting a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kazakhstan beefed up cargo inspections at the border with Kyrgyzstan.
The result has been a backup of up to 500 trucks on the Kyrgyz side, all waiting for days, sometimes for weeks, to undergo Kazakh inspections.
Kazakhstan is the only overland avenue for Kyrgyz goods headed for Russia or the rest of Europe.
The lengthier searches violate EEU principles of free movement of goods and services, in Bishkek's view.
If negotiations fail, Kyrgyzstan can "recall its ministers", preventing the EEU from reaching a quorum or making decisions, Mukanbetov told the parliamentary committee.
Kazakh authorities who searched Kyrgyz trucks found tax violations and failure by Kyrgyzstan to ensure "transparency of cargo movement", the Kazakh Trade and Integration Ministry said June 10.
Not what was promised
Joining the EEU has been a bad bargain in the eyes of many Kyrgyz who remember Russian assurances of shared growth and harmony.
Since Kyrgyzstan became a member, Kyrgyz businesses have encountered many hardships, including escalating competition with cheap Russian goods and the hindrance of exports, said Ayan Rsykulov, a dried-fruit producer from Bishkek.
"Inspections at the border have become stricter because of stringent requirements by the [EEU] that are not always well founded," said Ryskulov. "This isn't at all what we expected."