Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 63

On March 28, the Council of Heads of State of CIS member countries held a summit in Moscow that had been repeatedly postponed owing to Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s earlier medical problems. The event was originally planned for last fall, then was rescheduled for December to mark the fifth anniversary of the CIS — a milestone that was observed belatedly in Moscow.

In an opening address startling for its anti-Western tone, Yeltsin urged CIS countries to restore the former single economic space through "integration" with Russia in opposition to the West: "Will our countries progress, or become backward countries serving the developed countries?… [The developed countries] simply don’t allow our goods there, and they flood our markets with their goods… Either we restore mutually advantageous relations on CIS territory, the economic potential, and tens of millions of jobs. In that case we need integration. Or we reject that, count only on international finance, say good-bye to our processing industry, and exist by exporting raw materials. In that case we can live without integration… Dooming the peoples to dependence on subsidies from financial institutions and to importing vitally important goods from the far abroad is a risky business. Our peoples are not going to approve a refusal to revive the healthy advantageous relations, which on the whole are not a bad inheritance at all." Most CIS countries will regard these proposals as designed at the very least to discourage Western investment and stifle their own aspirations to join the World Trade Organization.

In international affairs, Yeltsin implicitly asserted a Russian droit de regard in the CIS: "Everyone is free to choose his friends in the West, the South or the East, but what kind of friendship is this if it directly harms neighbors ?… We have no interest in seeing the former [Soviet] Union’s territory dominated by anyone, particularly in the political-military sphere, nor in seeing any country playing a role of buffer against Russia… We are not paying due attention to the collective security treaty… We need to pay more attention to ensuring security and developing military cooperation in view of unceasing attempts to establish power centers in the post-Soviet space. What else is the purpose of moves around the Caspian? We don’t need a new Persian Gulf on our borders…The consolidation of anti-integration and anti-Russian tendencies is absolutely unacceptable." Yeltsin’s address repeatedly referred to the "post-Soviet space" as a unit and to its "fraternal peoples." (Itar-Tass, March 28)

Integration Concept Shelved.