The Council of Foreign Ministers of CIS member countries met yesterday in Moscow for last-minute preparations before today’s CIS summit. Most participants found themselves in consensus — as CIS executive secretary Ivan Korotchenya admitted after the meeting — that the CIS has "created a huge number of all manner of structures which have begun duplicating each other and proliferating out of control and are expensive to maintain." In order to "stop this process," the meeting resolved to ask the heads of state to empower the Council of Foreign Ministers to centralize decisions on the creation of CIS organs and to rule on their desirability on a case by case basis.
The ministers who chose to participate in the discussion on the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict endorsed a broadened mandate for "CIS peacekeeping" troops and referred it to today’s summit for approval. There was no immediate word on the content of the broadened mandate, which had been sought by Georgia, stonewalled by Russia, and opposed by Abkhazia. The ministers further recommended monitoring implementation of the January 1996 CIS summit’s decisions that authorized Georgian control of Abkhazia’s external trade and communications. Implementation of those decisions has been spotty owing to Russian "peacekeeping" and border troops’ cooperation with Abkhaz authorities.
Azerbaijan, backed by Ukraine, sought a political assessment of recently exposed Russian deliveries of armor to Armenia. The meeting’s chairman, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov, succeeded in postponing that discussion pending the outcome of an investigation underway in Russia. However, the issue may be reconsidered at the summit. Ukraine, attending the meeting only as an observer, was among the countries that declined to sign documents on security issues and the financing of multilateral CIS bodies. (Russian agencies, Interfax-Ukraine, March 27)
Prime Ministers Adopt Diluted Concept of Integration.