A shrinking CIS convenes in Minsk.
09 October 2014

A summit meeting of the Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will be held in Minsk on Friday (10 October). Ahead of the summit the Foreign Ministers of the group will meet to review the agenda for the Heads of States meeting.

Of the fifteen republics that used to form part of the USSR the three Baltic States never joined the CIS. Georgia left the group in 2009, in the aftermath of the Georgia-Russia War of the year before. Following the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea earlier this year Ukraine announced that it would also be leaving the group. The formal process for Ukraine's disengagement from the CIS has however not been completed, and the country will be represented by its' Ambassador in Minsk at the Foreign Ministers meeting, but will not attend the Summit. Of the ten remaining members Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have in the past attended CIS summits selectively. However President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan is already in Minsk where he is conducting an official visit ahead of the Summit.

Belarus has sought to maintain good relations with all CIS countries, even when relations between some of them and Russia were strained. This has also been the case with Georgia and Ukraine where the Belarussian position on the territrial integrity of the two countries has been considerably nuanced.

CIS leaders at the summit will discuss developing multilateral economic, humanitarian and law-enforcement cooperation and sign a number of agreements, decisions and a statement on strengthening the international system of control over drugs, the Kremlin press service said earlier. The Russian president will participate in the meetings.

The CIS leaders are also expected to sign a statement addressed to CIS nations and the world community in connection with the forthcoming 70th anniversary of the Victory in World War II.

A number of other meetings are also expected to take place around the summit. The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council will discuss current issues of trade in goods and services, movement of capitals and labour forces and financial, organizational and technical aspects in connection with the beginning of the functioning of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) from January 1, 2015, the Kremlin said. The treaty on the EEU signed on May 29, 2014 is undergoing ratification procedures in the Belarussian and Kazakh parliaments. Russia already ratified it earlier in October.

Source: with agencies.

Photo: President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov  of Turkmenistan arriving in Minsk for an official visit on 8 October. He will later participate in the Summit of the Heads of the State of the CIS being held in the Belarussian capital. (picture courtesy of the Belarus State News Agency).