CIS and EAEU summits confirm aspirations for integration
Burabay in Kazakhstan’s Akmola Region hosts two large international forums
Participants of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council session pleased with the results of the meeting
The CIS Summit began warmly with Alexander Lukashenko awarding the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Order of Friendship of the Peoples. This Belarusian award is bestowed for significant personal contribution towards the establishment and development of friendly relations and strategic partnership between the states. Mr. Lukashenko praised the efforts of his Kazakh colleague in promoting integration, “He is the person who has done most for the establishment of the CIS. He initiated the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union. This facilitates the strengthening of friendship between nations while also improving the lives of people in our countries.”
On behalf of the CIS heads, Mr. Nazarbayev, who welcomed the summit, congratulated Mr. Lukashenko on his convincing victory during the Presidential elections. Mr. Lukashenko commented that the campaign wasn’t easy and it was very important to see how Belarusians would vote with such strong external influences and close attention from western observers. “We were trying to restore relations with the European Union — one of our major economic partners. After the elections, the issue was raised of what would be the next step. They had to acknowledge that the election in Belarus was held in compliance with the standards we don’t even have, yet the UN, OSCE, PACE and other organisations regularly demand them from us. Openness in politics is the quickest way towards mutual understanding and Belarus has always adhered to this principle. Mr. Lukashenko reminded us that; “The CIS should start discussing serious problems in the post-Soviet space and encourage those who are responsible for their resolution as much as possible. Without it our cooperation will fade away.”
The President of Belarus believes that the Commonwealth should play a greater role in the region and enhance its status on the world stage.
A large part of the summit agenda was dedicated to the issues of security. The situation along the perimeter of the CIS borders, in Ukraine, Syria, and Afghanistan don’t allow us to be complacent. Clear and definite measures are needed to neutralize external threats. In particular, Mr. Putin noted clear progress in the co-ordination of international efforts in counteracting terrorism in Syria. However, it’s unlikely that the problem will be resolved. The statistics are not encouraging, since the 1990s, the number of extremist organisations has tripled worldwide, exceeding 150,000 people. It refers not only to quantitative growth. Organisational forms of terrorism are also developing, represented by branched transnational companies. According to various assessments, between 5 and 7,000 CIS residents are fighting for the Islamic State terrorist group. We can’t allow them to return to their homeland and continue their activities, so the presidents have agreed to use the potential of the CIS Anti-Terrorism Centre to the utmost.
The heads of state have also approved a programme of co-operation to reinforcing border security and continue military co-operation until 2020. They made a statement regarding the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the UN and approved the address of the 30th anniversary since the Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster. This document has been developed upon Belarus’ initiative and can be used as a basis for the UN General Assembly’s new resolution, calling on the world community to continue co-operation in overcoming the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe.
In 2016, Kyrgyzstan will take over the presidency of the CIS and the next session of the CIS Heads of State Council will take place in Bishkek on September 16th, 2016 — a jubilee event, marking the 25th anniversary of the CIS.
As part of the summit, Mr. Lukashenko also met Vladimir Putin. The collaboration between Belarus and Russia in the format of the Union State remains the most successful and advanced integration project in the post-Soviet space. Mr. Lukashenko proposed to consider decisions regarding the most important issues during the Supreme State Council session or during his visit to Moscow.
The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council followed the CIS Heads of State Summit, with the presidents of Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan speaking about the prospects for development of the Eurasian Economic Union. Bishkek has joined the Eurasian Economic Union recently, this summer, so special attention was paid to the newcomer.
Not all issues connected with the movement of goods through the border have been solved, but this is being worked on. Mr. Lukashenko assured Kyrgyzstan that it wouldn’t regret joining the EAEU. The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council session adopted a package of documents to implement the norms, undertaken by Kazakhstan in regard to its membership of the WTO, into the EAEU norms. On the one hand, these documents outline the obligations undertaken by Kazakhstan to the market of this country. On the other hand, they neutralise any possible damage to its union partners.
After the summit, the presidents signed documents determining the procedures of EAEU interaction with third countries. It was decided to begin official negotiations with Israel to sign an agreement on a free trade zone. The next session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council will be held in December in Moscow.
The CIS is very important as a negotiating tool and it shouldn’t be destroyed in any way. However, we need to ensure that this structure is authoritative and popular when we’ll be deciding major and controversial issues. Take the Karabakh conflict, Transnistria, the conflict in Ukraine, for example, we should not shy away from these issues.
Sometimes it appears that we have become used to expecting that the Americans, the EU or someone else will tell us how to solve the problem or will solve it instead of us. We now need to realise that the CIS must make adjustments to address current situations ourselves. Let’s make steps in this direction.
By Vasily Kharitonov