In the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek yesterday, Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, and Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan held a regular summit of the Central Asian Economic Union. The presidents approved measures to create a joint peacekeeping force (see below). They signed an agreement on measures to implement their 1994 treaty on a common economic space; a declaration on common principles of using water and energy resources; and a decision to begin publication of a common journal on Central Asian cooperation.
The presidents tasked their staffs to propose within a month measures for reducing customs barriers, for working out a mechanism for mutual settlement of trade accounts and debts, and for moving toward mutual convertibility of national currencies. (Western agencies, Interfax, May 6 and 7)
Kazakhstan’s and Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the customs union with Russia and Belarus and the March 29 treaty on "deeper integration" among those four countries may, however, complicate those two countries’ efforts to eliminate tariff and currency obstacles to their cooperation with Uzbekistan, whose economic prospects seem the region’s most promising.
Central Asian Military Unit Nears Birth.