CIS leaders to consider modernizing the post-Soviet bloc

18:33, 27 November 2006
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To make it an efficient tool of cooperation

A CIS summit Tuesday in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, will look into ways of modernizing the post-Soviet alliance, to make it an efficient tool of cooperation, a Kremlin official said Monday, according to RIA Novosti.

      The Russia-led Commonwealth of Independent States, set up following the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, has long faced criticism, from both inside and outside, for its alleged ineffectiveness. The leaders of several member states have called into question the future of the organization.

      "The main topic of the summit, which is being held in the year of the CIS` 15th anniversary, will be related to a report on raising the Commonwealth`s efficiency," the official said. The report was drafted by an ad hoc group formed at the 2005 summit in Kazakhstan.

      "It`s about modernizing the CIS and its institutions, and about their adjustment to new realities, on the basis of a pragmatic, balanced approach, which implies building the bloc`s reform on the positive expertise it has accumulated over the 15 years of its existence," he said.

      The next step will be to set out a plan for further development of the 12-nation bloc, as well as strategies to implement it.

      The forum participants will sign documents on the development of humanitarian ties and judicial cooperation, notably against human trafficking and illegal migration, as well as in the protection of judges trying criminal cases, the Kremlin official said.

      The attendees are also expected to approve a plan for censuses through the year 2010, under a UN program aiming to improve socio-economic decision making worldwide through more accurate demographic data.

      It remains to be seen how many of the CIS leaders will show up in Minsk Tuesday. The presidents of Ukraine and Georgia, which both criticize the organization as a vehicle for promoting Russia`s interests, snubbed the latest informal summit, held in Moscow in July.

      Georgian lawmakers were to have voted on a draft resolution to withdraw from the CIS earlier this month, but have postponed the vote to give themselves more time for thorough consideration.

      Turkmenistan ceased to be a full member last year. 

      In the runup to their next formal summit in 2007, the CIS leaders will have an informal meeting in June, concurrently with St. Petersburg`s 11th International Economic Forum.

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