An agreement between the four CIS partners, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus, on creating a common economic area is to be signed at a meeting in Yalta, Ukraine, in September 2003, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced today following a meeting of the International Assembly of CIS Metropolitan and Large Cities. The meeting of the Assembly took place in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev claimed the meeting to be one of the steps forward to the CIS integration.
He also said that the working out of the concept of a common economic area was almost over. According to Nazarbayev, the creation of the common economic area is not to replace any other international organizations. He argued that the new strong alliance would be advantageous for all states, particularly with regard to cooperation between the EU and the CIS countries.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba believes that "Crimea has already become a" suitcase without a handle” for Russia