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CIS leaders meet to discuss security, regional cooperation
Leaders 'synchronize watches' ahead of new customs union
By Maral Tazhibayeva
ALMATY -- A two-day informal summit of heads of state for the Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS) was held at the Ak-bulak ski resort, 40 km from Almaty, December 19-20. The seven leaders exchanged views on economic, humanitarian and political security in the region ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) and Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of both EurAsEC and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010, reported Central Asia Online’s Almaty correspondent.
“This is an informal meeting, (in which) they can discuss whatever they want. The main question is security in the region”, a Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesperson told Central Asia Online.
The spokesman said there was no set agenda for the meeting.
The presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan participated in the summit, which came a day after the Copenhagen Global Climate Summit ended.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that the presidents met to “synchronize watches” before launching a three-nation customs union among Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan January 1, 2010. Kyrgyzstan has also expressed interest in joining the union.
According to other press reports, the discussion included regional cooperation, combating drug trafficking from Afghanistan, and the outlook for cooperation among regional and international organizations.
“We have gathered here to exchange opinions on questions of joint interest, and to discuss once again our future plans and activities. Holding informal meetings became a good tradition of ours. I am sure we must continue this practice, because it lets us discuss a wide range of questions of concern for all of us”, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said at the opening of the summit.
Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov – who accompanied Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the summit – told Russian state TV afterward that “Russia approves and supports the commissioning of the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline this week”.
“The more diverse and the better the infrastructure in the Customs Union and CIS countries, the bigger our contribution to global energy security”, he said December 19. “We support such projects, Russia on its own, and in cooperation with other partners is working to expand the infrastructure for energy supplies”.
After the discussions, Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan told journalists that the presidents also discussed Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in OSCE.
“This is the first time when a member country of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) becomes the OSCE chairman. Kazakhstan will also represent our interests”, Sargsyan said. He stressed that Armenia and Kazakhstan are allies.
Not in attendance were the leaders of CIS members Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. According to Feghana.ru, Uzbek President Islam Karimov was invited to attend, but did not appear for unknown reasons.