Source: President of the Republic of Belarus
18 December 2020
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko took part in a videoconference session of the CIS Council of Heads of State on 18 December.
The leaders of Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan shared opinions on cooperation in the CIS (this time the summit was not attended by Armenia’s representative).
According to Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee Sergei Lebedev, shortly before the summit the CIS Executive Committee received a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia which stated that due to unexpected circumstances Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan would not attend the meeting. Sergei Lebedev explained that the representatives of Armenia had taken part in the detailed preparation of documents for the summit. Therefore, after the approval by the CIS heads of state the documents will be sent to Yerevan for signing by the Armenian side.
At the beginning of his speech Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for the active and productive efforts of Uzbekistan as the country presiding in the CIS in 2020. “I appreciate the professionalism of our Uzbekistani friends who had to fulfill their mission in such fire-hazardous environment. Our friend, the President of Azerbaijan, just spoke about one of such fires which had emerged on the post-Soviet space in the CIS zone of responsibility. Don’t forget about the events in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan. Ukraine is facing issues today. So we can say that this is a real fire,” the Belarusian head of state said.
“Strengthening the integration mechanisms in the post-Soviet space is not a matter of choice but an inevitable necessity. I believe that we can talk about the benefits only when we fully realize the potential of the CIS. This will be one of the main priorities of Belarus’ Presidency in the CIS next year, if today we adopt the appropriate decision, which has already been coordinated,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The President noted that Belarus will traditionally publish the concept of its presidency later, but said he will outline its main priorities now.
“We intend to focus on strengthening the role of the CIS to improve the standards of living, on solving the problems caused by globalization and addressing the new challenges of our time,” the head of state said.
Belarus plans to work to develop the common economic space, promote trade liberalization, minimize the number of restrictions and exemptions, remove technical barriers, unify the rules and procedures of public procurement, and to develop the common markets of goods and services.
Particular attention will be paid to the work on aligning the multi-level integration processes in the CIS and the EAEU. Aleksandr Lukashenko is confident that, given closer cooperation between the executive bodies of these two associations, the countries will be able to strengthen their ties. “At least we should not allow a situation where deeper integration in the Eurasian Economic Union will turn into some sort of a dividing line in the trade and economic relations of the five participating states and other CIS countries,” he stressed.
The head of state recalled that many integration associations were set up in the post-Soviet space. There were proposals to discontinue some of them or to merge, but the countries did not go for it. “Integration construction was described as different-level integration. The highest level of integration has been achieved in the Union State of Belarus and Russia, the Eurasian Economic Union and the CIS. Back then we agreed that we would pull up the level of cooperation from the bottom up. We are talking about the CIS and the Eurasian Economic Union. We seek to achieve the level of interrogation in the CIS on par with the one in the EAEU,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
According to the President, the member states should also continue systematic and consistent improvement of the coordinated transport policy, the search for specific solutions for energy supplies. “We see the need to improve the efficiency of the CIS inter-sectoral bodies, aimed at intensifying investment activities, expanding production cooperation, and searching for common points of economic growth,” the head of state added.
Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled the proposal of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, who invited CIS countries to take part in the restoration of settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh. At the recent EAEU summit, the Russian side offered cooperation in the aviation industry, the Belarusian leader recalled. “This is exactly what we need today. This is something we are missing in both the EAEU and the CIS. We need something to keep us interested, to be bind to one another: then it will be very difficult to tear one state away from another,” the President stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko believes it is also important to pursue a coordinated policy regarding technical regulations in standardization, metrology, conformity assessment and accreditation, the use of sanitary and veterinary measures as a means to ensure the output of safe, high-quality and competitive products and services.
Belarus will traditionally pay close attention to strengthening humanitarian ties, expanding contacts in science, education, healthcare, information, culture, sport and tourism, work with young people, improving the image of the CIS in the international arena. During its presidency in the CIS, Belarus will also try to implement Uzbekistan’s initiatives, which the country did not have time to implement in the outgoing year.
“Our strategic goal is to create a broad Eurasian zone of cooperation, and also to strengthen peace, friendship, good neighborliness and mutually beneficial relations in the region,” the President summarized.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the Commonwealth of Independent States is a reality, it has become one of the most effective instruments to ensure regional stability, no matter what skeptics say. At the same time he believes that this instruments should be improved, because the CIS constantly meets new challenges. The Belarusian President cited the escalation of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh as an example.
The head of state believes that in the current difficult situation the CIS countries should strictly comply with their obligations. “If we do not honor our agreements, there will be neither any unions, nor future agreements. The implementation of these agreements should not depend on one’s taste or personal preference – we represent millions of people,” he stressed.
Belarus has always adhered to these principles and will continue doing so, Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “I am confident that during Belarus’ Presidency in the CIS, with your support, we will be able to go ahead with the outlined plans and make considerable progress in the comprehensive development of the CIS member states,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “We can become stronger only thanks to shared responsibility and unity,” he stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko told his counterparts that Belarus will suggest concrete avenues and measures to advance integration in the CIS and will send them to all the member states.
The CIS Council of Heads of State approved the revised concept for further development of the CIS and the plan of the main measures to it during the online meeting.
The current concept was adopted in 2007, Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee Sergei Lebedev said during the summit. But despite the fact that its key provisions are still relevant today, it was time to update it.
“Some provisions of the document needed to be brought into line with the current level of multilateral cooperation and documents adopted in the CIS,” he said. “The revised concept states that the main task of the CIS is to become more efficient, including by means of ensuring the fulfillment of the commitments made by the states, monitoring their implementation”.
The document outlines economic cooperation as the key priority. More focus will be placed on the further development of the free trade zone, digital economy, and information security. Political interaction is outlined as one of the central functions of the CIS.
The participants of the summit decided that Belarus will takes over the Presidency in the Commonwealth of Independent States in 2021. Its co-chairs next year will be Uzbekistan, which presided this year, and Kazakhstan, which is due to assume the presidency in 2022.
Belarus proposed to hold the next CIS summit in Minsk on 15 October 2021.
“We very much hope that in the year of the CIS anniversary we will meet face-to-face in the beautiful city of Minsk,” Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said closing the meeting.