The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Uzbekistan, Hennady Udovenko and Abdulaziz Komilov, signed yesterday in Tashkent an agreement on the coordination of the two countries’ policies on CIS issues, an area where their positions "fully coincide." Udovenko told the press that Ukraine and Uzbekistan oppose the continuation of Russia’s chairmanship of the CIS Council of Heads of State. The two countries plan to propose that Boris Yeltsin be succeeded as chairman either by the president of Turkmenistan, whose country follows in alphabetical sequence; or by the president of Azerbaijan in order to begin an alphabetical rotation. Ukraine and Uzbekistan are also concerned over Russian taxation of imports from CIS member countries. Kiev and Tashkent are in favor of bilateral cooperation with Russia but "on the basis of equal rights." (Interfax-Ukraine, September 16)
The chairmanship of the Council of Heads of State is supposed to rotate among the member countries. In practice, however, Yeltsin has acted as chairman since the inception of the CIS. Early on the member countries consented to extending Yeltsin’s chairmanship, but later Moscow took their consent for granted. Russia’s privileged position in the top body is reflected in Russian chairmanship of CIS bodies at all levels. Udovenko’s alphabetical order appears to skip Tajikistan, which could be expected to act as a Moscow proxy if it succeeds Russia as chairman.
Mirroring Ukraine’s role in the European part of the CIS, Uzbekistan represents an Asian pole of resistance to Moscow’s attempts to use the CIS for hegemonic goals. In defining his country’s policy, Komilov recently said that "Uzbekistan opposes the creation of CIS supranational institutions which can be used as instruments of centralized control… Uzbekistan will not participate in the CIS Customs Union or the Interparliamentary Assembly… The CIS as a voluntary union must not become a military bloc." (Itar-Tass, August 24)
State Department Plan Will Need Improvements.