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The Russia-Belarus Union Treaty

By Peter Rutland - OMRI

Prague, March 29 (RFE/RL) - The Russia-Belarus treaty to be signed in Moscow next week (april 2) provides for merging many of each country's economic and legal policies. The treaty has N-O-T yet been publically released - not even to the Belarus parliament, which debated it two days ago without the text. But the Prague-based "Open Media Research Institute"(OMRI) has obtained a copy of the draft.

The treaty describes the new relationship between the two countries as a "Union" or " Community" (Soyuz/Soobshchestvo). And it provides for several supra-national institutions, including a Union Council consisting of the two presidents and heads of the governments and parliaments.

The treaty commits the two sides to put the supra-national institutions in place by the end of 1996. It states that the new union is formed within the framework of the CIS, and is open to additional members.

The treaty makes it clear that each country would retain its sovereignty and independence, from its own flag to its seat at the United Nations.

The treaty provides for Moscow and Minsk to coordinate their legal and economic systems in everything from social security entitlement and educational access, to taxation and the free movement of labor. There would be a harmonization of prices.

Analysts say this is particularly important for Belarus, since this means Minsk would pay Russian domestic prices for energy. There would also be joint protection of the external "common frontier," and other unspecified military cooperation.