The CIS is dead? Long live the EEC!

A regular session of the International Council of the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) started working in Moscow today. This organization was set up in the fall of the year 2000 at the summit of the heads of the states in Astana, the capital of the republic of Kazakhstan. For the time being, there are five countries incorporated in the EEC: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Therefore, the presidents of these five countries gathered to have a session in Moscow.

The number of those included in the community has already increased. Moldavia joined the association (the Moldavian president currently in Moscow), as well as Ukraine (the Ukrainian president did not come to Moscow). These new members are not actual members of the EEC; they are observers so far. However, the head of the community, Nursultan Nazarbayev (the President of Kazakhstan), noted that Moldavia could become a full member of the EEC in the nearest future. Nothing of the kind was said about the Ukraine, but the presidents of the countries who came to Moscow keep on emphasising the role that this country could play a rold in the community.

Major attention was paid to the issues of the economic cooperation between the EEC members. President Putin even compared the EEC with the European Union, although he added that “such a comparison would not look good for us.” Nevertheless, there is a goal: to set up close economic links with the European Community. Furthermore, the Russian president declared at the press conference that the EEC members agreed to coordinate their positions during negotiations pertaining to the membership in the WTO. Putin said that all parties agreed that the conditions that Russia can obtain for itself will be the most acceptable.

It has become obvious recently that commercial and economic links must become like a locomotive for integration processes on the territory of the former USSR, but only between the countries that wish for this. The number of the EEC countries is less in comparison with the number of the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. NewspaperCIS reported that the CIS summit, which was supposed to take place in Chisinau on May 29-30, was delayed for an indefinite period of time. The secretariat of the CIS prepared a document, which analyzed the reasons for the crisis of the CIS. As was said in the document, “the countries of thecCommonwealth started running economic policies independently, without any idea of the future, a policy based on their own profit.” The reduction of the mutual commodity turnover was the result: its share dropped from 79% to 28%. It was also stressed in the document that the countries of the commonwealth were contradicting each other on the international level. The groups of two, four, and five became a very good proof of that.

The Commonwealth of Independent States has remained an organization without any form, and it is still unable to affect political or economic processes that take place on the territory of the former USSR. Attempts to retrieve the CIS are not likely to be successful: the contradictions between its members are too big. The biggest obstacle is the fact that nobody really needs it, so it is much more reasonable to concentrate attention on more efficient structures like the EEC. This is not in the manner of GUUAM (this organization incorporates Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldavia). It was established as a counterbalance to Russia’s influence on the post-Soviet territory, and it has not yet resulted in anything. GUUAM is as virtual as the CIS now. At the end of the day, Ukraine and Moldavia agreed to participate in the EEC’s work.

As experience shows, if the basis of a community is stable economic relations, then such organizations are much more viable. The EEC has a very good shot now, although there is a chance that nothing will come of in the end.

Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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