A still-obscure decision of the March 28 CIS summit (see Monitor March 31, April 1) established a CIS Committee on Conflict Situations, proposed by Kazakstani president Nursultan Nazarbaev. Reportedly to be headed by the prime ministers and/or foreign ministers of the 12 countries, the committee would study the conflicts on member countries’ territories and submit recommendations for their political resolution to the Council of Heads of State. Failure in this effort "would render the CIS irrelevant," Nazarbaev warned at the Moscow summit. The meeting instructed CIS executive bodies to draft the documents on the committee’s functions and powers for consideration at the next CIS summit, scheduled for June. (Interfax, March 28-29)
Moldovan president Petru Lucinschi later termed this "the most important achievement of the summit," and described conflict resolution as essential to the viability of the CIS. According to Lucinschi, the new committee must be a fact-finding and advisory body, without any military functions. Lucinschi met and agreed with Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze during the CIS summit that Georgia and Moldova would jointly work out and submit proposals on the committee’s mandate and on the political settlement of conflicts. (Flux, Basapress, March 31)
A Russian Foreign Ministry official yesterday, however, suggested that the Committee should be "a military structure to which the CIS peacekeeping forces would be subordinated." (Interfax, April 1) Russia’s overwhelming predominance in "CIS peacekeeping" units and the ex-officio Russian chairmanship of CIS bodies — with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin already nominated to head the Committee on Conflict Situations — could turn the committee into an instrument of Russian policy if it receives military functions. A fact-finding and advisory committee, on the other hand, would produce a majority consensus in favor of the territorial integrity of states and could pressure Moscow into distancing itself politically from some of its clients.
Kazakstan, with its Russian-settled northern belt, is as interested in conflict prevention as Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan are in the political settlement of existing conflicts.
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