CIS: Power in Unity
The summit meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) held recently in Dushanbe was a traditional event, and it contributed to the exchange of views among the leaders of post-Soviet nations of the organization. Lately, however, this platform has served for the announcement of initiatives whose implementation would facilitate addressing the current problems facing the countries of the Commonwealth.
The summit host, Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, assessing the work undertaken within the CIS, stated the positive nature of cooperation in the economic sphere and placed the issue of free transportation of goods among the member nations in one row with security issues, cultural and humanitarian, trade and economic interaction.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan stated the need for measures aimed at removing trade barriers between the countries and drew attention to the realization of joint projects in the field of digitalization, tourism and space industry.
The leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, said there is no common development master plan for the CIS. According to him, the states should unite efforts for joint furtherance of interests in the global market, intensify mutual trade, investment, industrial cooperation, and in general, increase the role of the CIS as a regional player.
“Together, we are stronger, and separately each of us becomes easy geopolitical loot,” suggested the Moldovan President Igor Dodon. “For Moldova, cooperation within the framework of the CIS is good and profitable. We want to build a balanced foreign economic policy. We will not be pro-Western or pro-Eastern; we will be proMoldovan... I think the leaders of the Commonwealth need to meet as often as possible in this and other formats, discuss common issues, find solutions, implement joint projects. Even in complex matters such as trade, energy, migration, compromises are possible.”
The fact that trade occupies an important place within the CIS was confirmed by the President of Uzbekistan. In his opinion, against the background of the dynamic changes taking place in the world, the Commonwealth confirms its relevance, being an important platform for the consolidation of multi-dimensional cooperation. Moreover, over the past two years, the volume of trade turnover has steadily between Uzbekistan and the CIS countries has increased. An important role in strengthening mutual trust among the post-Soviet countries was played by the meeting of the Council of CIS Heads of Government held in Tashkent a year ago. Then new projects were developed and about 20 issues of development of trade and economic relations among the participating nations were considered.
In Dushanbe, Shavkat Mirziyoyev again put forward a number of specific proposals.
He noted the need to maximally simplify customs procedures, remove all existing trade restrictions, including technical barriers, and stressed the importance of the full-fledged operation of the CIS free trade zone and the formation of common markets, as well as the soonest creation of a free trade zone in the Commonwealth space in services.
Uzbekistan’s President considers it important to continue work aimed at the effective use of international and regional corridors, with the introduction of a single mechanism for reciprocal provision of tariff preferences, unification of requirements and the removal of various barriers to cargo transportation by all modes of transport, the development of logistics centers.
According to him, it is also important to build up cooperation in the fields of mechanical and electrical engineering, energy, textile and pharmaceutical industries and agriculture, including through the widespread introduction of ‘green corridors’ in the mutual supply of products.
Considering the growing role of information and communication technologies in the Commonwealth countries, the head of Uzbek state welcomed the development and adoption of a program within the CIS for the long-term development of digital economy: “We could jointly promote projects to introduce advanced digital technologies in the industrial and agricultural spheres, in the financial sector, under public-private partnership, as well as to enhance the access of our population and business entities to convenient electronic services.”
Given that the general challenge for most of the Commonwealth countries is the conflict in Afghanistan, the CIS, as noted by Shavkat Mirziyoyev, can play an important role in international efforts aimed at the soonest political settlement of the Afghan crisis.
Proceeding from this, Uzbekistan’s leader highlighted – among urgent components of cooperation – the expansion of interregional and cross-border interaction, which contributes to the consolidation of multi-layered and mutually advantageous relations among the states and peoples of the Commonwealth. In this regard, Shavkat Mirziyoyev deliberated on the coordination of activities of law enforcement agencies and special services, ensuring effective cooperation for the timely prevention of emerging security threats in the CIS space.
The President of Uzbekistan also drew the attention of the summit participants to radicalization among young people. He noted the need to shore up cooperation in the fields of education, enlightenment, social support for the young generation, protection of their rights and interests, creation of conditions for self-realization. The head of our state stressed the need for further development of cultural and humanitarian ties: “Cultural and humanitarian bonds and spiritual values have always served as an important force unifying the Commonwealth countries, which is why we offer to hold annual tourism fairs and Days of CIS Culture alternately in our countries, organize regular meetings of creative youth of the Commonwealth, designating each event with a specific theme. We propose to set up a Virtual Museum of the Cultural Heritage of CIS Nations.”
Shavkat Mirziyoyev also touched on the topic of celebrating the 75th anniversary of the common victory over fascism: “We will give priority attention to the implementation of joint activities for the extensive celebration of the 75th anniversary of our common victory over fascism. This issue will be separately reflected in the Concept of the Chairmanship of Uzbekistan in the CIS in 2020,” the President of our country informed his colleagues.
In general, following the talks within the Dushanbe Summit, the parties approved the CIS Convention on Cooperation in the Study and Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes and the Plan of Basic Measures for the Preparation for and the Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. By the way, the leaders of the CIS countries agreed to establish a single commemorative medal “75 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945” to award veterans in the member states.
Referring to the events dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, who took part in the CIS summit for the first time, pointed out: “The Armenian people have a special attitude to the Victory. Half of the Armenians who left for the frontline did not return from this terrible war. More than 70 thousand Armenian soldiers were awarded correspondingly, of which over 100 were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. We urge to celebrate this holiday with dignity, jointly resist the attempts to glorify Nazism and the propaganda of neo-Nazism, to distort history.” The Prime Minister of Armenia stressed that this holiday will forever be remembered as a symbol of courage and unity of the peoples of CIS countries.
In addition, at the end of the Dushanbe session, the sides adopted the Statement of the CIS Heads of State on the Occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed December 10, 1948; the Interstate Program of Joint Measures to Combat Crime for 2019-2023; the Agreement on Cooperation in Combating Crimes in Information Technologies and other documents, as well as the decision to declare the year 2021 as that of Architecture and Urban Planning in the CIS. In total, 16 documents were signed.
It was decided to pass the presidency in the Commonwealth onto Turkmenistan next year. Uzbekistan is designated as cochair in the organization.
Tashkent is willing to continue with boosting cooperation in the fields of mechanical engineering, energy, electro-technical industry, textile, pharmaceutical and agricultural sectors.
“The mounting threat of international terrorism causes grave concern. Contemporary terrorist groups wield considerable financial resources, the cutting-edge information and technical means, and they are highly mobile and agile. In the meantime, they tend to relocate from the Middle East to Afghanistan, to the CIS frontiers.”