Russian president Boris Yeltsin stated on television yesterday that "if we review the results of 1997, we must frankly acknowledge: we have mismanaged the CIS. Some are now even keen to desert it." Yeltsin made his comment after meeting with Russian deputy prime minister Valery Serov in preparation for tomorrow’s summits of the CIS Customs Union and of the Russia-Belarus Union. Yeltsin instructed Serov — who is responsible for CIS affairs in the Russian government — to initiate "a period of very active Russian work with regard to the CIS, this whole year should be very busy in this respect, very busy indeed." (Russian TV, "Vesti" program, January 20)
In Minsk, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka similarly conceded that "the CIS is traversing a serious crisis and its future is in doubt." Speaking at a senior staff conference of his Foreign Ministry, Lukashenka predicted that national leaders who are critical of the CIS will not take their countries out of the organization, but will prefer to "stay in the CIS and block any initiatives in its framework." (Russian agencies, January 20)
Moscow Restates Soviet-Era Position on Incorporation of Baltic States.