MOSCOW WINS ONE, LOSES ONE AT CIS PRIME MINISTERS’ MEETING.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 179

Meeting in Moscow on September 28, the CIS member countries’ prime ministers disagreed with Russia and among themselves on the two main items on the agenda. Russia won on the first dispute and lost on the second.

A Russian-drafted political document appealed to the world, on behalf of the CIS, to work out antiterrorism strategies and create a global security system, exclusively under United Nations auspices. The document implies, moreover, that antiterrorism actions by states or groups of states must be authorized by the UN Security Council.

At least three countries–Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova–sought to modify the document by broadening the definition of terrorism. They argued–as they often have, with mixed success, at past CIS meetings–that “aggressive separatism,” ultranationalism and ethnic cleansing should also be classified as terrorism. The three countries have experienced these phenomena, respectively, in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in Transdniester, and in Karabakh and adjoining areas. Russia, Armenia and Belarus opposed that broadened definition of terrorism. The document was adopted essentially in the Russian-drafted form.

On September 29 in Baku, however, Presidents Haidar Aliev of Azerbaijan and Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia told a joint news conference that their countries and the two presidents themselves had been targeted by those forms of terrorism. They issued their own appeal to the world to resist the armed, “aggressive separatism” and to reverse ethnic cleansing where it has taken place.

At the Moscow meeting, a majority of the CIS countries’ prime ministers turned down Russian proposals to increase the CIS operating budget. Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov called for a 30-percent hike in the 2002 budget over 2001; he then haggled that down to 25 percent. But most countries, including Russia’s allies Belarus and Armenia, opposed any net increase. They variously pleaded poverty or cited national priorities. In the end, the budget issue was referred to the Finance Ministers for further debate, which probably guarantees procrastination (Interfax, RIA, Belarusan Radio, Unian, Turan, Prime-News, September 28-29; Haiastani Hanrapetutiun, September 29).

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