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14 October 2022, 12:26

Astana CIS summit described as ‘frank conversation'

ASTANA, 14 October (BelTA) - The summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States ended in Astana. The leaders of the countries, including Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, held a substantive discussion on a wide range of issues both within the CIS and in the context of the international agenda. Following the summit, a number of decisions were made and agreements were signed on the development of cooperation and interaction in various fields, BelTA has learned.

"It was a frank conversation. The presidents touched on all the pressing problems that, unfortunately, are present in the CIS. But I would like to emphasize that there was a common desire to solve these pressing problems. All heads of delegations called to maximize the multilateral and bilateral dialogue in order to resolve the existing conflicts in the Commonwealth of Independent States and achieve peace and harmony," Chairman of the Executive Committee - CIS Executive Secretary Sergei Lebedev told the media.

In addition, none of the heads of state questioned the need to preserve and further develop the CIS. "On the contrary, everyone stressed the importance of the proposals that were made," Sergei Lebedev noted.

The agenda of the summit featured more than a dozen issues. Traditionally, at the start of the narrow-format meeting the participants of the summit exchanged views on topical issues of the CIS agenda.

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko warned that pressure and provocations along the entire perimeter of the CIS would only intensify.

“Unfortunately, what we had been talking about for so long, for so many years has materialized, it has become a reality. A real hybrid war has been unleashed against all of us. And Ukraine is just a pretext. Western countries have long been mulling over revenge for the campaigns they lost in the previous century, starting from the first days after the victory in the Great Patriotic War, and maybe even earlier,” the Belarusian leader said.

According to him, the CIS partners do not always support each other and principled positions of some countries still hinder effective joint response to the Western sanctions.

At the same time the president believes that there is a possibility to reduce the impact of external shocks on the CIS countries. “We just need to skillfully use these opportunities,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

Sergei Lebedev's reappointment

Sergei Lebedev was reappointed Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee – CIS Executive Secretary for another three-year period.

The CIS leaders also agreed with the proposal of Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to rename the position held by Sergei Lebedev from Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee – CIS Executive Secretary to CIS Secretary General from 2023.

The president of Kazakhstan explained his proposal at the narrow-format meeting. According to him, this move will raise the overall status of the Commonwealth. A similar decision has recently been made to rename the corresponding position of the CICA and SCO chiefs.

Of course, it will be necessary to formalize the decision, to amend a number of documents, which will take some time.

On behalf of all heads of state Kassym-Jomart Tokayev thanked Sergei Lebedev for his successful work and dedication.

CIS presidency

A number of organizational matters were discussed at the narrow-format meeting. A decision was made that in accordance with the rotation, in 2023 the chairmanship in the CIS will go to Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan and Moldova were supposed to co-chair with Kyrgyzstan next year, Executive Secretary Sergei Lebedev explained. “However, due to the fact that the Republic of Moldova refrains from co-chairing the CIS next year (we received a corresponding note), a proposal has been made to suggest the co-chairmanship to the Republic of Kazakhstan and to the Russian Federation in 2023," Sergei Lebedev noted. The heads of state did not object.

The heads of state also decided that the next meeting of the CIS summit will be held in Bishkek on 13 October 2023.

Anti-crisis force of CIS IPA, the Train of Memory project

The summit discussed the role of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly in the development of the CIS.

"The CIS MPs are a powerful close-knit team, and, taking into account today's realities, an anti-crisis force," said Valentina Matviyenko, Chairwoman of the CIS IPA Council, Chairwoman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. According to her, special attention is paid to the approximation, harmonization and improvement of laws. The IPA has adopted more than 600 model documents - codes and laws. Almost 80% of them has been implemented in the national legislation of the CIS states. "These are meaningful documents that are aimed at improving the lives of citizens and developing multifaceted cooperation," Valentina Matviyenko said.

The IPA also provides support to the implementation of the decisions approved at the highest level in the CIS, participates in the monitoring of electoral processes and provides methodological support.

The IPA is also actively involved in the youth policy. One of the positive examples of such cooperation was the patriotic campaign "The Train of Memory" held in 2022 involving young people from Belarus and Russia. Valentina Matviyenko proposed other CIS countries to join the initiative and to hold this project with the participation of all CIS countries in 2025, the year of the 80th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War.

Draft free trade in services agreement

In order to advance trade and economic cooperation in the CIS, it was decided to intensify work on the draft agreement on free trade in services.

Negotiations on the draft agreement began in November 2012. Since then , 40 meetings of an ad-hoc group and 5 working meetings of experts have been held. In September of this year, the draft agreement was generally approved by the decision of the CIS Economic Council. Work is in the home stretch. Experts are working on the annexes containing individual lists of obligations of the states parties and defining the conditions for access to the market for services of all parties to the agreement. The document is very important for the CIS. Its main goal is to ensure the sustainable development of the free trade zone in services and goods and to create more favorable conditions for further growth of the economies of the CIS member states.

Cultural and humanitarian dimensions, thematic years in the CIS

The state leaders agreed to declare 2024 the Year of the Volunteer Movement in the CIS; 2025 - the Year of the 80th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War - the Year of Peace and Unity in the Fight against Nazism"; 2026 is the Year of Health.

The heads of state supported the initiative to declare St. Petersburg the CIS Capital of Culture in 2024.

The council supported the initiative of Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to establish an international organization under the auspices of the CIS to support and promote the Russian language. “This is especially relevant in conditions of total Russophobia, which is artificially imposed in a number of countries today,” Sergei Lebedev noted earlier.

At the initiative of Kazakhstan the CIS Heads of State Council adopted a statement on the development of cooperation in culture. Another statement touched upon cooperation in climate.

The meeting also adopted a decision to implement the interstate program CIS Capitals of Culture in the Russian Federation in 2024. The heads of state supported the initiative to give such a status to St. Petersburg.

A new regulation on the CIS Commission on Human Rights was adopted in order to strengthen cooperation in human rights and freedoms.

An agreement was also signed on the establishment of the Advisory Council of the Heads of the CIS Election Bodies.

Friendship Games and CIS Chess Championship

The heads of state supported the initiative on organizing the CIS Friendship Games and instructed the Executive Committee to look into the issue. The idea of the Games was voiced by Turkmenistan President Serdar Berdymukhamedow.

The parties discussed how to schedule the new Games and the CIS Games, which were recently established and first held in 2021 in Kazan. Belarus will host them in 2023. “The CIS Executive Committee should look into the issue taking into account Serdar's proposal. He has made a good proposal,” the Belarusian president said.

Everyone agreed that sports competitions should be organized on a rotating basis, by analogy with the Olympic Games and world championships, so that they would not be held in parallel. “We should have both. You hosted the Asian Winter Games, you have a great base in this regard. The Olympic Games were held in Sochi. Why not hold the Friendship Games? We can make them open. Whoever wants may come and take part,” said the Belarusian leader.

“It is a good idea. I think we all agree,” Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said. He also recalled that there were other initiatives to support the sports and the humanitarian sector. In particular, there was a proposal to hold a CIS film festival with the main prize similar to an Oscar, and also the CIS Award in Science.

The leader of Uzbekistan voiced an initiative to organize a CIS chess championship.

“Belarus turned out to be the organizer [of the CIS Games]. We will work with the Executive Committee and submit proposals to you in some form. We will decide how to proceed with this in Kyrgyzstan [at the next CIS summit in October 2023]),” the Belarusian head of state said.

Cooperation in security and anti-corruption

Special attention at the summit was devoted to cooperation in security.

The heads of state approved a program of cooperation in combating terrorism and extremism for 2023-2025.

The parties also signed agreement on cooperation in combating corruption. “The document on combating corruption has been in the works for probably 10 years. It is finally ready and will be submitted to the heads of state for consideration,” Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei told the media in Astana.

The document will be open not only to accession for CIS countries, but also for any other state that shares the goals and principles of the agreement. It is planned to cooperate through competent authorities. They will be assisted by the Interstate Council on Counteracting Corruption.

A protocol decision on granting the CIS an observer status in the Collective Security Treaty Organization was signed at the end of the summit.

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