The participants in the videoconference, chaired by the Republic of Uzbekistan, discussed the current state of and prospects for developing cooperation within the CIS in the political, trade, economic, social and cultural spheres, as well as joint efforts to counter the coronavirus. They also exchanged opinions on important international and regional matters.
A package of documents has been signed during the Meeting of the CIS Heads of State Council. The documents include resolutions On the Concept for the Further Development of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Plan of Basic Measures for its Implementation; On the Development and Strengthening of Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation of the CIS Member States; On the Concept of Military Cooperation of the CIS Member States until 2025; as well as decisions on joint statements on the 75th anniversary of the UN and on international information security cooperation.
In addition, an agreement was signed on the Joint Engineering Unit for Humanitarian Demining of the Armed Forces of the CIS Member States and a decision on the CIS Programme of Cooperation to Strengthen Border Security for 2021–2025
Documents were also signed to declare 2022 a Year of Folk Art and Cultural Heritage in the CIS, and 2023, a Year of the Russian language as a language of interethnic communication.
Taking part in the meeting were President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Acting President of Kyrgyzstan Talant Mamytov, President of Moldova Igor Dodon, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Speaker of the Federation Council, Chair of the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member States Valentina Matviyenko, and Chairman of the Executive Committee – Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States Sergei Lebedev.
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Speech at the Meeting of the CIS Heads of State Council
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
I would like to join those who thanked Chairman of the CIS Heads of State Council Shavkat Mirziyoyev for organising this meeting. It is a good opportunity for us to take stock of the year that is now ending and outline cooperation plans for the CIS for the short term.
As my colleagues have already said, 2020 has been a challenging year, to say the least. Of course, I am referring to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced us to mobilise the available resources in order to protect the lives and health of our people.
It is essential that from the very beginning of the outbreak, CIS members understood the need for collective approaches to fighting the epidemic. Our sanitary services coordinated their efforts. We are drafting cooperation agreements on sanitary controls and responding to epidemiological emergencies. The Plan of Action setting out joint initiatives to counter the epidemic is about to be completed.
I have already said on a number of occasions that Russia has assisted its interested CIS partners in fighting the coronavirus and overcoming its consequences in every possible way, and importantly, will continue to do so. In particular, CIS countries received testing kits and reagents for a total of 1.3 million COVID-19 tests. I would like to emphasise that this accounts for 52 percent of all overseas assistance provided by Russia.
Russian doctors and epidemiologists were sent on missions to many CIS countries, as my colleagues have already mentioned today, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, in order to assist these countries in preventing, diagnosing and treating coronavirus infection. Of course, we stand ready to assist all CIS countries in getting their people vaccinated using Russian vaccines. I am referring to the Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona vaccines. Other Russian vaccines are expected to become available soon. We also propose working together on producing them. This has been mentioned already. Let me confirm that we are ready to work together with you and are interested in doing this. This is essential for the people of our countries, considering our close economic and people-to-people ties. Hundreds of thousands, even millions of our citizens travel back and forth between our countries.
Unprecedented attempts by external forces to interfere in the internal affairs of several CIS member states were another serious challenge we faced this year. I will not speak about this now. Colleagues have already touched on these matters in one way or another.
Of course, all of us have been concerned about the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, in which the neighbouring CIS member states – Azerbaijan and Armenia – are involved. Regrettably, armed clashes there have claimed numerous lives, aggravated the already complicated situation in the South Caucasus and increased the risk of the proliferation of the terrorist threat.
It has been noted that Russia provided mediation services to stop the bloodshed in the Nagorno-Karabakh zone, bring about a full ceasefire and launch the stabilisation process. At the same time, we tried to comply with the key agreements reached within the OCSE Minsk Group, in particular, among its co-chairs – the Russian Federation, France and the United States.
As you are aware, on November 9, Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a trilateral statement. Our colleagues have already spoken about this. It is very important that this statement is being consistently implemented, by and large. The Russian peacekeepers, who have been deployed along the contact line, are doing everything they can to prevent a new aggravation. The international community and, of course, all our countries are facing a vital objective – to help the affected regions settle their humanitarian problems, including those related to the return of refugees, rebuilding the damaged infrastructure, and protecting and restoring historical, religious and cultural landmarks.
Despite these challenges and problems, interaction between the CIS member states continued to develop in all spheres this year, including in the economy and trade, in politics and security, as well as in the cultural and humanitarian sphere. This is evident from the large set of decisions and agreements, which have been prepared for approval at today’s meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council. I would like to once again thank our Uzbek friends for this. One of the documents to which I would like to attract your attention is the draft of the updated Concept for the CIS Further Development. Russia supports the CIS priorities for the medium term as set out in that document.
We believe that it is important to continue strengthening the CIS countries’ interaction when it comes to ensuring security in the post-Soviet space, protecting the CIS external borders, and combating other current challenges, such as terrorism and crime in cyberspace and other spheres.
We see great potential in the implementation of joint projects in the field of industrial and technological cooperation, as Mr Lukashenko has said, as well as in aircraft manufacturing, energy, telecommunications, science in general, technology and digitisation.
Not that long ago, we attended an international event organised by Sberbank of Russia together with the President of Kazakhstan. I would like to note that our organisation could also hold events of this kind. I would like to thank the President of Kazakhstan for taking part in this event, held at Russia’s initiative.
Russia also wants to promote deeper humanitarian ties between CIS countries in order to preserve a single cultural, scientific and educational space. In this context, I would like to note the experience of holding joint thematic years by CIS countries, which has been a success. The fact that their programme is compiled well in advance is a good thing.
The next year, 2021, will be the Year of Architecture and Urban Planning. Today we will take a decision to devote the year 2022 to promoting folk art and preserving our rich cultural heritage. We have always been proud of our heritage and the unique cultural identity of every nation within the former USSR. We should never forget that this is something we can all be proud of. The year 2023 will be devoted to promoting the Russian language as a means of international communication. We are now speaking Russian and are able to communicate freely, without interpreters. This definitely creates a certain atmosphere and helps us in our work. Even more importantly, there are many labour migrants in our countries, especially in Russia. For all of us, including for those people, and there are millions of them, being able to learn the Russian language when they need it is essential.
This year, all activities within the CIS were marked by the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, which is quite logical. Mr Igor Dodon has already said that military detachments of a number of CIS countries took part in the parade on Red Square. We appreciate this very much, and I would like to thank you for this.
We are grateful to our CIS partners for supporting Russia at international platforms on initiatives to preserve the historical truth and counter attempts to justify Nazism in all its forms. I am certain that we need to act in the spirit of solidarity in defending the memory of the feats of our peoples who saved the world from aggression and had to pay a high price and suffer irreparable losses.
The Great Victory not only brought peace, but also enabled us to lay a solid foundation for the contemporary international order. Today, we are to adopt another important statement, on the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The fact that it clearly reaffirms the commitment by the CIS to the UN Charter and emphasises the central coordinating role of the UN in international affairs is of crucial importance.
To conclude, I would like to wish all our countries every success as we approach the New Year holidays. My greetings to your families and the people in your countries on this wonderful occasion. I would also like to wish our friends in Belarus every success in chairing the CIS in 2021.
Thank you for your attention.