After a joint photo session, the CIS heads of state held a restricted format meeting and then continued their talks with the delegations present.
The summit participants discussed current issues on the international agenda and opportunities for developing humanitarian, law enforcement and military cooperation between the CIS member countries.
A package of documents was signed following the meeting, including the Statement by the CIS Heads of States on the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations Organisation, the Statement by the CIS Heads of State on Fighting International Terrorism, the Address by the CIS Heads of State on the 30th Anniversary of the Chernobyl Accident, and the decision On Legal Provisions for Migration Processes in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The meeting participants also signed agreements on procedures for the establishment and work of joint investigations and operations groups on CIS member countries’ territory, organising a council of directors of CIS countries’ corrections services, and cooperation between the CIS countries in disaster prevention and relief.
Other documents signed include the Concept for Military Cooperation between the CIS Member Countries through to 2020, the 2016–2020 Programme for Cooperation between CIS Member Countries on Strengthening Security on External Borders, Implementation of the of the Cultural Capitals of the Commonwealth Programme in Turkmenistan, and Establishment of a Group formed by Border Guards and other Agencies to Settle (Liquidate) Crisis Situations on the External Borders.
The remaining documents signed at the summit concern organisational and personnel matters, including the question of a director for the CIS Antiterrorism Centre and a chairperson for the Air Defence Coordinating Committee under the CIS Defence Ministers Council.
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 Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova Andrei Galbur, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan Satlyk Satlykov and Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee and CIS Executive Secretary Sergei Lebedev.
Speech at a restricted format meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of State
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
I also want to congratulate Mr Lukashenko on his victory in the [Belarusian] presidential election, and Mr Atambayev on successfully holding a parliamentary election in Kyrgyzstan. The elections in both countries were in full compliance with international democratic standards, and this has unquestionably helped to bolster political stability in the CIS region.
Developing close and multifaceted cooperation within the CIS remains Russia’s unchanging foreign policy priority. The CIS will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. Over this time, it has proven its worth as an influential organisation bringing together the countries in the post-Soviet region.
I want to add my voice to what President of Uzbekistan Mr Karimov said before. The CIS has built up rich experience of cooperation in the broadest range of areas. The organisation has traditionally paid particular attention to resolving socioeconomic issues.
Today, a number of negative external factors are creating challenges for our countries. On our way here to this hall, I was talking with some of my colleagues, including the President of Azerbaijan, about the drop in price for some of our main export goods, the uncertainty in the global economy, and the growing political tension in many parts of the world. All of these factors are slowing down economic activity in our region.
The CIS countries’ combined total GDP fell over the first half of 2015, as did investment in fixed capital. Trade turnover between our countries has also decreased. This situation requires us to take measures to reduce our national economies’ dependence on foreign markets, and look at what we can do to stimulate business ties within the CIS itself.
I am referring above all to the CIS free trade agreement that was signed in 2011. We must develop this agreement’s full potential and simplify as much as possible the movement of goods and investment flows. We also need to make greater use of national currencies in our mutual settlements.
Colleagues, Russia is completing ratification of the agreement on the CIS integrated currency market. I remind you that Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan signed this agreement in Ashgabat in December 2012. Its entry into force will make it possible for us to carry out a coordinated currency policy and eventually perhaps establish a common CIS financial market.
Coordinating our foreign policy efforts is another important area of work. Our basic position is that all of the CIS countries recognise the UN’s central role in resolving international problems and ensuring global security. This view is reflected in the draft statement on the UN’s 70th anniversary that we are set to approve today.
The growing threat from international terrorism was one of the key subjects during the general political discussions at the recent UN General Assembly session in New York. Today the main front in the fight against this evil is in the Middle East.
Russia has warned repeatedly about the danger of growing radical forces in the region and has worked consistently at all levels to unite the international community’s efforts to combat these extremist groups. In this respect, we considered it our duty to take concrete action in the fight against the Islamic State and other radical groups on Syrian territory.
Let me note that Russia’s Aerospace Defence Forces and the Caspian Flotilla are operating in full compliance with international law. Our actions are completely legitimate because we are acting on the basis of an official request from President Assad.
We have a strictly limited mission and are using our aviation and other means solely against terrorist groups. Our operation is limited in time too to the Syrian army’s offensive against the terrorists.
From air and sea, we have been striking targets agreed in advance with the Syrian forces, and our service personnel have achieved some impressive results. We have destroyed dozens of command posts and ammunition depots, hundreds of terrorists and a large amount of military hardware. At the same time, we remain committed to establishing as broad a coalition as possible to act against the extremists and terrorists.
We are making efforts to organise practical cooperation with the main regional and international partners. As a first step, we call on all interested countries to join in the work of the information centre in Baghdad.
There has been some progress in coordinating action and efforts to fight terrorism in this region. We have established working contacts with the Middle East countries. We are currently in talks with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and other countries, and are trying to organise cooperation with the United States and Turkey.
Let me stress the increasing importance of cooperation between the CIS members too in fighting international terrorism. Various estimates put the number of people from Russia and other CIS countries fighting on the side of the Islamic State at 5,000–7,000. Of course we must act to make sure that these people do not put the experience they have acquired in Syria to use here at home later.
We need to ensure the CIS Antiterrorist Centre’s effective operation and continue coordinating the work of our intelligence services and keep up a constant exchange of information. It is especially important to monitor closely the situation on the CIS’ external borders, and in this respect, I agree with the President of Uzbekistan, who expressed his concern over the situation taking shape in Afghanistan.
The situation there really is close to critical. Terrorists of all kinds are gaining influence and do not hide their plans for further expansion. One of their goals is to break through into the Central Asian region. It is important that we be ready for coordinated action to respond to any such attempts.
In this context, I would like to note the importance of the CIS member countries’ military cooperation concept through to 2020, which we will approve today. Also before us today is the 2016–2020 programme for CIS cooperation on strengthening border security, and this too will help us to build up reliable defences on our external frontiers. Part of this programme involves establishing groups of border guards and personnel from other agencies in the CIS countries to deal with crisis situations on the border. I am sure that these documents will substantially boost the results of our common efforts to fight cross-border crime and drug trafficking.
Building up our humanitarian cooperation is another of our traditional priorities. I think the Cultural Capitals of the Commonwealth programme is a project that stands out in this area. It helps to better acquaint us with the traditions of our countries’ peoples and fosters tourism growth. This year, Kulob in Tajikistan and Voronezh in Russia are the CIS cultural capitals. We support the nomination of Dasoguz in Turkmenistan as CIS cultural capital for 2016.
The practise of organising CIS thematic years has produced good results. This year was Veterans’ Year, of course, given the 70th anniversary of Victory. We have agreed to make 2016 the Year of Education. The busy programme for the year will bring our educational standards closer together and encourage academic mobility.
We already have quite active student exchanges. More than 225,000 citizens from CIS countries studied in Russian universities in 2014–2015, and around 75,000 of them had their studies paid for by Russia’s federal budget.
We will continue to work on expanding contacts in this area. I think that if we declare 2017 the Year of the Family, this would also help to bolster humanitarian ties within the CIS. I hope you will support this initiative.
In conclusion, I want to note Kazakhstan’s successful Presidency of the CIS. Thanks to our Kazakhstani friends’ efforts, we have made progress in a number of important areas.
In 2016, the CIS Presidency will go to our colleagues from Kyrgyzstan, and we wish you every success in this work.
Thank you very much for your attention.