In a nationally televised statement, President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan disclosed that Russian president Boris Yeltsin had recently sent a questionnaire to all the heads of CIS member countries regarding their views on the development of the CIS. The questionnaire and the answers to it were intended as a basis for discussion at the extraordinary CIS summit, which had been scheduled for January 23 in Moscow but was canceled last week. (See Monitor, January 7)
Focusing on four of Yeltsin’s questions, Karimov said that he had replied:
— "The CIS can not be turned into a subject of international law or into a regional organization. We are categorically against this. It is unfortunate that efforts are being made to force this through by hook or by crook."
— "We are against setting up [CIS] supranational structures," including a CIS Customs Union; the latter would interfere with individual countries’ aspirations to join the World Trade Organization.
— Documents adopted in the CIS "more often than not meet the interests of one country." On the other hand, such documents are sometimes easily adopted "because everyone knows that they will not be implemented." Moreover, "[Kazakh president Nursultan] Nazarbaev is right" that the 2,000-strong CIS central staff in Moscow is overbureaucratized; and while "the CIS does not work, its officials nevertheless are receiving their salaries." Uzbekistan proposes a 30 percent reduction of the CIS staff.
— "We are against turning the CIS into a political-military bloc and against discussing in the CIS such matters as NATO’s enlargement. Individual CIS countries have their own view on NATO, let them express that view proceeding from their own interests… Uzbekistan will not be part of any CIS defense space or joint command." (BBC, Summary of World Broadcasts, January 12, reproducing the monitored text of Karimov’s January 6 statement on Uzbek TV.)
Karimov’s reaction to Yeltsin’s questionnaire throws light on the Kremlin’s policy objectives regarding the CIS as an organization. Those objectives seem constant despite Yeltsin’s promises, given under pressure at the Chisinau summit last October, to respect the member countries’ national interests. The extraordinary summit scheduled to be held in Moscow this January was supposed to have demonstrated a change in Moscow’s approach.
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