_ EDB. Saint-Petersburg, 13 December 2017.
The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU, Union) continues to enjoy significant trust and support from between 50% and 83% of the population of its five member states, as well as Tajikistan (69%). At the same time, positive attitudes towards Eurasian integration have been declining gradually, both in the EAEU countries and beyond.
Over the EAEU’s first years, from 2015 to 2017, the most significant decline in public support for membership of the Union was recorded in Russia (from 78% to 68% of the population) and Armenia (from 56% to 46% in 2015-2016, with an increase to 50% in 2017). In other EAEU countries, public support for Eurasian integration reduced at a moderate pace: from 80% to 76% in Kazakhstan, and from 60% to 56% in Belarus. It should be mentioned that the highest support for Eurasian integration in these countries was recorded in 2014, with indicators averaging 10 percentage points higher than in 2017.
In the Kyrgyz Republic, the population has been demonstrating the most positive attitudes to the EAEU membership since 2015. The actual figures changed insignificantly, from 86% to 83% in 2016 and 2017 respectively. It shouldn’t be forgotten that in 2014 only 50% of the Kyrgyz population supported the country’s possible accession to the EAEU and 30% were against this possibility.
These are some results of population surveys in seven countries (five EAEU member states, Tajikistan and Moldova) where at least 1,000 people were polled (totalling approximately 8,000) within the EDB Centre for Integration Studies’ ongoing research project “EDB Integration Barometer”.
The survey showed that people in Belarus and Moldova were the most open to foreign capital inflows in 2017. In Belarus, this demand has been growing stably over the years of measurements. Similarly to 2016 results, the most desired investors are Russia, Germany, the U.S., China, and Japan. Residents of all the EAEU countries, Tajikistan and Moldova express interest in Russia as the desired source of foreign capital at a level of not lower than 34%.
The phenomenally high level of social ties between the Union’s countries and their mutual trust are an irreplaceable integration capital.
When asked what countries are friendly and can support their country in a difficult time, the majority of respondents named the CIS region (as in the previous five years of surveys). The population of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan express the highest trust in their CIS neighbours for the sixth year in a row (95%, 94% and 90%, respectively).
Russia continues to be perceived as the most “friendly country” by all respondents, named by an average of 76% of them in the six surveyed countries. Kazakhstan goes second (31%) and Belarus third (21%).
The Russian respondents consider Belarus (61%) and Kazakhstan (54%) as the friendliest foreign political partners. Armenia replaced China in the third place (an increase by 4.5 percentage points, to almost 40%). Incidentally, the level of trust that Russians feel for China has dropped considerably over the course of the year (by 12 percentage points) down to 29%, despite as many as 45% of Russian respondents listed China among their country’s allies in 2015.The perception of India’s friendliness declined by 12 percentage points (to 17%). The Russian population gained more trust in Uzbekistan (by 4 percentage points, to 26% – the highest indicator over the six years of surveys), Moldova (by 5.5%, to 21%, another record-breaker) and Turkey (by 4 percentage points, to 7%).
Finally, the EAEU member states and Tajikistan have the phenomenal density of social ties: between 51% and 80% (except Russia) of their populations said they have ties with relatives, friends and colleagues from the CIS countries that they maintain continuously. In 2017, the highest ratings were recorded in the Kyrgyz Republic (80%), Armenia (79%) and Tajikistan (66%). In Russia, 31% of the population maintain social ties with neighbouring CIS countries. This indicator can also be considered as high taking into account comparative size of the population.