CIS: the Commonwealth of Frightened States

FROM THE EDITORS: at the height of the military events in the south of Kyrgyzstan THE GLOBE asked the question: whether presidents Akaev, Karimov, Nazarbaev, Niyazov and Rakhmonov realized the reality of the threat? Presidents of the Central Asian countries seem realizing. The recent summit of the CIS countries proves that. It is difficult to remember that any other summit, moreover, held during last years, was so appreciated. But the main point is, why? The establishment of the free trade zone � one of the key points � has not been realized. They agreed only on circulation of securities. What is the reason for this estimation?

Below the author supposes that was connected with the threat by Islamic fundamentalists namely. In spring paths will open, and extremists will again start the military actions, one of the recognized field commanders of the United Tajik Opposition said to THE GLOBE.

Igor Bekmetov


We should consider the January summit of CIS states as a failure, as no concrete decisions were taken, the free trade zone was buried before it was born, bankers did nothing better than agreed on circulation of securities that are out of their competence�

But all CIS leader are satisfied. Why?

This time none of the post-Soviet leaders either criticized the CIS or forecasted its collapse. Just the opposite, leaders proclaimed new impulses for the development, etc. What suddenly united Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and the rest countries, except Byelorussia, around Vladimir Putin?

It is difficult to explain this applying to the logic of common economic interests. The consumable turnover volume between CIS countries is miserable and does not grow significantly. Russia traditionally sells energy carriers, but is not going to buy products that CIS countries produce using these energy carriers, as Russia prefers suppliers from the so-called far foreign countries. It seems that they stopped to try to reanimate old industrial connections. Since 1997 they have been discussing the establishment of the CIS free trade zone. In the last year they even signed the next hopeful document in this regard. But the zone has not been established. At the meeting of CIS Customs and Tax Departments held on Wednesday in the Russia�s State Tax Committee, this topic was not seriously discussed as well, because this zone is not profitable for Russia. If the zone is established, a number of indirect taxes are to be paid according to �the country of destination� principle, i.e. VAT from oil sales will not be deducted to the Russian budget, but to budgets of its partners. With the West Russia does not trade in this way, but it imports a lot from the West. Moreover, it gains the hard currency, but not tears of Alexander Lukashenko or Leonid Kuchma. If the zone is established, Russia may lose tens of billions of dollars. That is why it avoids any concrete actions in this direction.

Till present many CIS leaders dared to criticize this Russia�s position, including the CIS. From time to time Uzbekistan threatened to break off the CIS. This time there was surprising unanimity. For example, when President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan came back to Yerevan he simply said: �We are not ready for this step yet.�

Then for what we are ready? They had to demonstrate anything, and they gave a corresponding order to heads of the national banks. The latter agreed to establish the CIS securities section within the coordination council of representatives of CIS central banks and interbank currency exchanges. The idea is difficult to understand, as in Russia the Federal Committee on Securities deals with corporate securities in the market, while state securities are in the competence of the Finance Ministry. There are also other signs that the common securities market is impossible.

Of course, presidents understand this perfectly well. Why do they rejoice, summarizing the summit? It seems that because they have not achieved complete concord apropos of the military cooperation.

CIS leaders did not approve the candidature of the general-colonel Leonid Ivashov as the head of the CIS headquarter on coordination of the military cooperation. Why they did not approve Ivashov is another topic. But the decided the main thing � to stir up the cooperation. The dispute around the candidature of the headquarter chief proved that and confirmed how seriously the CIS treats military events. This is not just discussion of the free trade zone and other issues, when they approve functionaries easily. This is the preparation for the possible war.

War threatens Asia. Only due to cold weather and snowfalls the so-called fundamentalists, who took hostages and rushed into Kyrgyz and Uzbek towns, became quiet. Now Asian republics cautiously wait spring to come and mountainous roads to free from snowdrifts. According to special services, terrorists� actions will recommence. Vladimir Putin promised to render military aid to both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, according to some sources. In autumn military exercises were not held with the NATO forces, but with Russian troops. Asian republics state that the have the common enemy with Russia. They will have to fight against it n spring both in Chechnya and in Asian mountains. Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan need a protection.

In the former USSR territory there are enough dangerous beds: Georgia and Azerbaijani borders� Vladimir Putin demonstrates his decisiveness in military campaign and has all necessary handles to execute special operations. �We should be friends with him,� people said in the summit lobby interviews. They voted for him as unanimously, as people in Uzbekistan voted for Islam Karimov.

It appeared that Russia is being imposed to be �a peace-maker� or a �policeman� in the CIS. This does not mean that it is offered either the political leadership or economic preferences. Just the opposite, most CIS countries emphasize their devotion to non-Russian political interests and do not promise to support Russia in international disputes. Most countries even do not promise to pay for supplied energy carriers or to promote Russian power projects. But they ask for soldiers and weapons. It seems they will receive both. That is why CIS leaders are satisfied with the summit on the whole and Vladimir Putin personally.

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