Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 100

Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, presidents of the two largest CIS countries other than Russia, reviewed recent trends in the CIS during their talks in Almaty September 20 through 22. Kuchma said at the news briefing that "the CIS has a future only if it really functions as a commonwealth of equal and independent states, rather than serving someone’s political ambitions." Kuchma then told a gathering of Kazakhstan economic executives that Ukraine is staying out of the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan customs union because joining it "would turn the Ukrainian economy into an appendage of the Russian economy." Nazarbayev said that Kazakhstan needed the customs union but joined it on the condition that it would remain free to trade and cooperate with other countries; and that in any case "the customs union like many other CIS structures has failed to work properly." Nazarbayev rejected Russian-proposed dual citizenship as "inadmissible." (10)

The two presidents were meeting in the wake of calls in Moscow, spearheaded by Boris Yeltsin, to turn the CIS into a political-military bloc led by Russia. Kuchma said on his way to Almaty that "the CIS is witnessing developments that require me to intensify consultations with my fellow presidents."

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