Economic Problems Prevailed

An informal summit of CIS leaders took place in the Mariinsky Palace in Kiev in the first part of the day today. The session lasted for about two hours, but some bilateral work meetings were held already yesterday. It was the most sensational result of the summit when Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma was unanimously elected chairman of the CIS Council. Until recently, since the first day of the CIS creation, Russia has been the chairman of the CIS Council.

After the summit Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists that not political but economic problems were dominating at the summit. The Russian leader mentioned that at the summit in Chisinau in October 2002, CIS presidents passed a decision “to considerably stir up economic cooperation in the CIS network.”

Vladimir Putin added that such activization satisfied national interests of all CIS members. In his words, “intensive development of special suggestions and projects for improvement of economic cooperation has already started.”

The Russian leader thinks that CIS states have all necessary resources and political will necessary for achievement of considerable progress in multilateral economic cooperation.
As LIGA online reports, the Russian president stressed that “interesting suggestions submitted by Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma at the Chisinau summit” became the basis for many of the projects currently developed.

At the same time, it seems that the problem of free trade zone creation (this is the problem on which Ukraine insists so much) is postponed for some period and solution of the problem will depend upon several conditions. Russia’s president Putin spoke out at Ukraine’s Shevchenko National University on Tuesday; he said that incorporation of Ukraine into the Eurasian Economic Community would speed up the process of free trade zone creation between Russia and Ukraine.

It is not ruled out that now Ukraine won’t hesitate about incorporation into this organization. This is seen from Kuchma’s statement saying that CIS countries plan to create this zone in September 2003 already. Moldavia President Vladimir Voronin thinks that a free trade zone between Russia and Ukraine “may become an alternative to the Eurasian Economic Community and GUUAM (the organization called by the first letters of its member countries: Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova).” At the same time, Ukraine aims at incorporation into the WTO in the first half year of 2004, if the situation develops successfully, Ukraine Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich declared today.

Presidents of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldavia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan took part in the CIS summit in Kiev.

Andrey Lubensky

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Author`s name Michael Simpson