Vladimir Putin: We are shortly to mark the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. June 22, 1941 was a tragic date in our common history. The juggernaut of that war destroyed millions of our fellow citizens and ruined tens of millions of human lives. And we all see profound meaning in the fact that it is here, in the long-suffering and, I would say, heroic land of Belarus that we are launching an appeal to the peoples of our countries and the world in connection with this tragic anniversary: I am convinced that the cruel lessons of the war must forever remain in people’s memories and serve as a stern warning to those who prefer to use force and not reason.
And today the issues of peace and strategic stability are still subjects of serious concern for the CIS member states. It is important that here in Minsk we have reaffirmed our readiness to oppose the expansion of international terrorism together – today it is a relevant problem for the southern borders of the Commonwealth – above all by organising the efficient work of the CIS Anti-Terrorist Center.
We believe that along with the UN and the OSCE the Commonwealth must take an active part in providing international guarantees that the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict will not resume. Our decision to extend the mandate of the Collective Peacekeeping Force in the region is necessary and justified. I am sure that our peacekeeping efforts will contribute to security in the region and the presence of the Collective Force will be a deterrent to adventurers and extremists.
The year 2001 sees the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. That jubilee is a fitting occasion to review the results of our activities and outline the outlook for the development of the Commonwealth. We have approved the initiative of our Ukrainian friends on the preparation of the document to be discussed at the next session of the Council of CIS Heads of State.
I am sure that the future of the Commonwealth should be based not on speculative schemes and high-sounding slogans, but on pragmatism and a businesslike approach. A great deal of painstaking work lies ahead. Its success will hinge on our effectiveness and ability to achieve the desired results.