The heads of state of the Commonwealth of Independent States have adopted a statement in connection with the 10th birth anniversary of the Commonwealth. The statement reads that, "although far from all that was conceived" has been made a reality of, the leaders of the Commonwealth are convinced that it "has a considerable positive potential, which can and should be used for the good of its peoples". A strong foundation for interaction within the framework of the CIS is, in the opinion of its heads of state, "the coinciding desire for sustained and onward socio-economic development, worthy integration into the world community". The heads of state see the gist of the existence of the Commonwealth in "assisting in the attainment of these goals through interaction and the pooling of efforts of the participant states". The main criterion for assessing the activities of the Commonwealth is its "practical return in improving the well-being of citizens of the states making up the CIS, ensurance of broad rights and guarantees for them", as well as "real improvement of the life of people". At the basis of the entire system of interaction within the CIS lies, in the opinion of the leaders of the member-states, "objective interest in intensive trade-economic cooperation". This interest is explained, the statement goes on to read, "by not only the historically motivated interconnection of the economies of our countries but also, to an increasing degree, by the processes of globalisation". The heads of state attach crucial importance to creating a zone of free trade on the CIS space with account for the interests of all partners. Things should proceed towards stage-wise elimination of barriers to mutual trade, the statement says, creation of an efficient payments and settlements system, formulation of a corresponding legal base that would ensure upright competition on national markets. All said and done, it is the opinion of the presidents within the Commonwealth that the priority goal of economic cooperation is the reinvigoration of forms of integration. Special attention will be given to the bringing closer together of national foreign-trade, tax and customs legislations of the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, statement says.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the termination of diplomatic relations with NATO at a time when US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ended a meeting in Georgia with his counterpart