CIS leaders get down to business at summit

The leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States have gathered in Tajikistan. Reforming the organisation heads the agenda. Other issues include migration policy, terrorism, and the implementation of agreements under the Collective Security Treaty Or

CIS born out of amicable divorce

For the next two days, over twenty issues will be thrashed out at the Somon Palace in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.

One of the main topics for today has been reforming the CIS in order to develop relations and co-operation between the member-states. Recently it’s been said that the Commonwealth is in a period of stagnation. The leaders have signed an agreement on a new concept for reforming the organisation.  

Also, a new president will be elected to head the CIS, replacing the Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is currently presiding.  

Drug-trafficking has also been on today’s agenda. And a UN representative was present at the meeting saying that, since this year in Afghanistan was especially rich in opium, the CIS countries might become transit points for illegal drug-trafficking and that should be stopped.

Among other important issues were migration and security. Illegal migration has become a problem for many CIS states and especially for Russia, where millions of migrants come yearly in search for better life and work. As a result of the meeting, the leaders have signed a protocol on co-ordinating efforts on migration policy.
 
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will meet with the CIS leaders to discuss issues concerning Russia and its neighbours. He has already met his Tajik counterpart, Emomali Rakhmonov.  

Later the CIS leaders will hold a media conference.  

Finally, the day is expected to end with an official dinner hosted by the Tajik President.

CIS born out of amicable divorce

The Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Eurasian Economic Community, all came into being following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In the words of RT's political commentator Peter Lavelle:
 
“It’s all about the amicable divorce of the Soviet Union. Maybe, they didn’t want to stay together but they sill had a lot of communalities, especially economic and trade. Now they all have those common issues of dealing with terrorism, criminality, the drug trade – things like that. And I think what they want to do is more intense economic development, but not having Russia pay for it all,” Mr Lavelle said.

Fifteen years after the collapse of the USSR, the post-Soviet space is packed with all sorts of new abbreviations.

Some of these organisations stem from a political agenda, others pursue economic interests, and hardly any of them has proved to be as successful as they had hoped for.

The CIS was created in 1991 and unites most of the former Soviet republics. It was first regarded as a substitute for the USSR, although its original goal, a common economic space, was never fulfilled. The main obstacle to its development is the lack of political will among some of its members.

State officials like to use this platform for face-to-face meetings rather than round-tables.

For the past decade the post-Soviet area has been shaken with numerous regional conflicts, revolutions and even civil war. And if some of them were resolved, others have been frozen for years.

Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Armenia are now united in a military coalition – the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

Its aim – to protect sovereignty of the states, that includes countering terrorism and drug trafficking.

“During the operation that was aimed to counter drug-trafficking from Afghanistan, and thanks to the joint efforts of the CSTO member states, we confiscated 10 tons of heroine, and 1,200 tons of chemical substances needed for the production of drugs,” says Nikolay Bordyuzha, CSTO Secretary General.

CSTO members regularly conduct military exercises.

The organisation is also planning to establish its own rescue forces, antiterrorist and peacekeeping units.

The same states except for Armenia are members of the Eurasian Economic Community, or EurAsEC. It is the only group in the region that exclusively deals with economic and social issues. The main goals are to create a customs union and a common economic space.

But seven years after its establishment, progress is slow. EurAsEC’s Secretary General, Grigory Rapota, says there are many obstacles. “The states are very careful,” he notes.

Some countries fear that further integration might limit their autonomy and interfere with domestic policies, but there is some progress, he says.

“Three documents are going to be signed in Dushambe creating the judicial basis for the Customs Union. It will take around three years,” adds Grigory Rapota.

So far, a custom’s union is planned between Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. Other countries will join when they are able to meet the necessary conditions. If successful, the next stage will be a common economic area.