Meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of State 2013-10-25 17:00:00 Minsk Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States Council of Heads of State in Minsk. The meeting’s main areas of focus were expanding trade and economic cooperation, law enforcement cooperation, and developing cultural and humanitarian ties. Also taking part in the meeting were President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Moldova Nicolae Timofti, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, First Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Dzhoomart Otorbayev, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan Annamukhammet Gochiyev, and Chairman of the Executive Committee and CIS Executive Secretary Sergei Lebedev. A package of documents was signed following the meeting. The agreements signed include decisions declaring 2014 Year of Tourism, and 2015 Year of the 1941–1945 Great Patriotic War Veterans in the CIS, and a decision on establishing a common anniversary medal to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet people’s victory in the Great Patriotic War. Documents were also signed on the 2014–2018 interstate programme of joint crime prevention measures, the 2014–2016 programme for cooperation on combating terrorism and other violent forms of extremism, the 2014–2018 programme for cooperation on combating illegal trafficking of narcotics, psychotropic substances and their precursors and preventing drug addiction, and the 2014–2018 programme for cooperation in preventing human trafficking. The decision was approved to carry out an interstate programme, Cultural Capitals of the Commonwealth, in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 2014, and approval was given to the Concept for Cooperation in Combating Crimes Committed with the Use of Information Technology. Agreements were also signed on protecting confidential information within the CIS, and on establishing the Interstate Anti-Corruption Council. Speech at meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of State in narrow format President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Our Belarusian colleagues have done a lot to organise today’s meeting and have prepared a whole number of important documents on the main cooperation areas. I think we need to give priority attention today to the economic situation. This is all the more important given that the CIS economies grew by 3.4 percent in 2012, but growth this year will be only 1.8 percent. The same goes for investment, which has also dropped considerably. This is a serious factor to take into account in today’s circumstances, something we need to think about, likewise with the drop in internal trade between the CIS countries. Of course, we cannot look at these trends in isolation from the situation in the global economy, which is far from ideal. But our countries can certainly set their own development agenda, get big investment projects underway, and improve the business environment without waiting for the global picture to improve. In order to effectively minimise the global crisis’ impact, we need to develop our own integration ties. The CIS Free Trade Agreement that we signed in 2011 was a big step in this direction. I hope that it will continue to develop and will have a positive impact on our trade and economic ties. Equally important is for us to create a predictable and safe business environment in our countries. This is the purpose of the Interstate Anti-Corruption Council that we are establishing today. We must increase our law enforcement cooperation in general. In preparation for today’s meeting, we have approved a whole range of medium-term programmes that involve concrete measures to prevent organised crime, terrorism, and drug trafficking. We have drafted the Concept for Combating Crime Committed with the Use of Information Technology. The practice of ‘theme years’ has proved useful as part of the CIS’ work. This year was devoted to environmental protection. Next year is to be the Year of Tourism. One of the priorities will be to draft a strategy for developing tourism sector cooperation through to 2020. The CIS countries have a unique diversity of cultural, historical and natural sights. We need to make them more accessible, develop regional transport infrastructure, and invest in developing facilities together. Russia and Belarus have a good project that we started in 2012, for example. We are developing one of the CIS’ biggest projects, the 220-km-long river cruise route, Along the Dnieper: From the Varangians to the Greeks. We are drawing up similar projects with Ukraine and Azerbaijan. I was in Azerbaijan recently and was impressed by the way Baku is developing. We walked around the central city and it was really a wonderful sight. I am sure that if people are more aware of what is happening in our countries, their interest will grow. We think that the interstate programme, Cultural Capitals of the Commonwealth, will also help to promote tourism development. We support the idea to declare Almaty and Osh the CIS cultural capitals in 2014. Of course, we also need to continue the work to preserve and strengthen the CIS’ common humanitarian space. Representatives of the CIS creative and scientific communities held their eighth forum in Minsk a month ago. I am sure that events of this kind will continue to foster increased contacts in culture, science and education. In conclusion, I particularly want to note the importance of joint preparations for celebrating the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. We have a common duty to the generation of victors to celebrate this anniversary in fitting fashion. We are taking the first steps today by approving the decision to declare 2015 the Year of Great Patriotic War Veterans in the CIS. We need to start planning the celebration events well in advance. There will be plenty of work ahead for the CIS’ next presiding country – Ukraine, which will take over this responsibility on January 1, 2014. We are ready to give our Ukrainian friends all-round help and support. Thank you for your attention.