Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 187

The prime ministers’ conclave discussed inconclusively the status and mandate of reformed management bodies of the CIS. One of these, the Executive Committee, is the would-be successor to two defunct institutions: the CIS Executive Secretariat and the Interstate Economic Committee. The Secretariat had been a staff organ which Boris Berezovsky–its head from April 1998 to March 1999–had tried in vain to enlarge and elevate to a top policymaking role. The Interstate Economic Committee had been the executive organ of the still-born CIS Economic Union, which had as far back as 1994 proclaimed the goal of creating a CIS-wide free trade area. Their successor, the Executive Committee, is planned to have twelve deputy chairmen, one for each member country, with the rank of deputy prime minister, residing in their respective countries and represented by permanent delegates of medium rank–forming the Economic Council–at CIS headquarters in Moscow.

Reform of CIS bodies is a goal as old as the CIS itself. The particular restructuring proposals discussed by the prime ministers at Yalta date back to at least the April 1998 summit and have seen no perceptible advance since (see the Monitor, June 7). As a sop to Ukraine, the Yalta meeting approved the nomination of Volodymyr Fyodorov as first deputy to Russia’s Yuri Yarov, the current CIS Executive Secretary. That body has been considerably downgraded following Berezovsky’s forced departure. Fyodorov is Ukraine’s current ambassador to Russia and will “continue to discharge his ambassadorial duties for some time”–an indication that his appointment to the CIS post was an improvised move.

A meeting of the CIS heads of state had been tentatively scheduled to be held consecutively to the prime ministers’ meeting. The Kremlin, however, had indicated last month that the summit would be postponed by a few weeks, and on October 8, the ailing Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin announced an indefinite postponement without citing any reasons. A meeting of the CIS countries’ defense ministers, though, was unexpectedly scheduled for October 12 in Ukraine, at Kyiv’s suggestion. That meeting is timed, ostensibly, to Ukraine’s autumn field maneuvers, but the main intention behind it is to demonstrate progress in Ukraine’s relations with Russia in the final stage of Ukraine’s presidential election campaign (Itar-Tass, UNIAN, STB TV, October 8-10).

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