Meeting in Moscow yesterday, the Council of Heads of Government of CIS member countries adopted a Concept of CIS Integrational Development in a watered-down version that apparently fell short of its Russian drafters’ expectations. The chief drafter, Russian deputy prime minister Valery Serov (responsible for CIS relations), told a concluding briefing that the Concept as adopted at the meeting is only a recommendatory document, meant to suggest "only general directions of integration," and whose provisions are optional to countries that choose to adhere to them. Subsequently the interested countries "will work out more specific mechanisms of economic cooperation in the framework of this Concept," Serov said.
Prior to the meeting, Serov had anticipated that "adoption of this long-awaited document will re-energize effective CIS integration." And Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, opening the meeting as chairman, described the draft as containing "precise stipulations" and as "fundamentally important, undoubtedly the key item on the council’s agenda."
There was no immediate word on how many countries approved, and in what form, a draft CIS Mining Charter and a draft agreement on exploration, development, and use of mineral deposits. Many of the member countries are determined to avoid creating CIS legal standards different from international standards governing mineral rights and mining. Some of the countries endorsed an agreement on financing the nascent CIS joint air defense system and as yet unspecified "collective security structures."
Ukraine signed "with reservations" only two of the ten documents on the agenda. It also opposed Serov’s reelection as chairman of the Interstate Economic Committee, citing the CIS charter’s provision that bars officials of national governments from chairing interstate bodies. That provision notwithstanding, many Russian government officials do in fact chair CIS interstate bodies. (Interfax, Interfax-Ukraine, Kommersant-daily, March 27)
The council meeting was not fully attended as at least two prime ministers — the Ukrainian and the Armenian — stayed home, citing more urgent business there and sending their deputies to Moscow. Ukraine’s Pavlo Lazarenko is also passing up tomorrow’s Moscow summit in favor of a visit to Egypt.
Georgia, Moldova, Gaining Financial Respectability.