Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 169

Russia’s Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov yesterday asked his counterparts to postpone the meeting of CIS countries’ prime ministers, which was scheduled to be held on September 24-25. Primakov did not name a substitute date. He admitted that the new Russian government “needs time to develop an approach to CIS reform.” Primakov’s request was immediately opposed by several countries on the grounds that the issues are too urgent to allow for further procrastination.

A forum which was supposed to work out the reform concept adjourned amid disagreement yesterday in Minsk after the first of two scheduled days of discussions. The “Special Interstate Forum on Issues of Perfecting CIS Activities and Reforming the CIS” attempted to assess proposals from two working groups, which had been in session for the last three months in Moscow and Minsk, respectively. One group submitted proposals on improving economic cooperation among CIS member countries–the other, on organizational reform of the CIS.

CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky, who chaired the aborted forum, admitted that differences erupted over those proposals. Berezovsky conceded that the organization is “incapable of formulating common goals” because it is “divided among groups of states with different and contradictory interests.” He proposed two panacea. First, “abandoning the consensus principle,” by restricting decisionmaking to the “interested countries” that participate a given joint activity or program. Other countries “would not have the floor” on the matter in question.

Berezovsky’s second solution holds that “the CIS must not be circumscribed to the confines of the former USSR.” He recommended that Russia invite other countries, first of all Iran, to participate in CIS activities. “There is enormous potential in cooperating with Iran. Our unclear attitude toward Iran represents a big loss to Russia and the CIS,” Berezovsky stated (Russian agencies, NTV, September 15).