CIS safe and sound despite rumours

The leaders of former Soviet republics have gathered in Moldova for the CIS Summit on Friday. And though four of them didn’t show up, this is normal, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The purpose of the CIS was probably best described back in 2005 by Vladimir Putin, the then-president of Russia. He said that the CIS as a union was created with the purpose of a peaceful divorce of the former member countries of the USSR rather than an alliance, and the CIS never had an ambition of becoming anything similar to the European Union, for example.

So despite the fact that some experts have even dubbed the absence of the four CIS leaders “the funeral” of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Moscow doesn’t dramatize the fact that the leaders of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have skipped the summit, as their delegations came headed by people authorized to make any necessary decisions.

“It’s not the first time something like this has happened and I see nothing unusual about it. It’s not always simple for eleven presidents to gather in one place,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Those CIS leaders who came to the capital, Chisinau, have discussed joint measures to overcome the global economic crisis, fighting drug trafficking, cooperation in the humanitarian sphere, distance education and joint efforts to cope with emergency situations.

The leaders have also discussed the upcoming 65th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

“The CIS presidency passes over to Russia starting January 1, 2010, and Russia is considering the preparations to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the victory in the World War II to be one of the key elements of its presidency,” Sergey Lavrov said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has held several meetings with his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit, including one with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorny-Karabakh conflict, which has been a sticking point in relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan ever since the collapse of the USSR.

According to the Russian Foreign Minister, solving it is a slow and difficult process, but step by step progress is being made.

As for Medvedev’s meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, it didn’t take place due to the differences in the schedules of the two, according to Moscow.