President Vladimir Putin: After two months in your new office, what is your view of the situation?
Sergey Lebedev: Things are rather complicated today. I have visited five member countries and met with leaders of six states, including Russia – Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers, and other top officials.
What was important for me and for the CIS as a whole is that all the leaders I met with have confirmed their willingness to preserve our Commonwealth and actively promote integration processes. It is extremely important. All of them emphasised the need to make our cooperation even more effective, to concentrate on major issues rather than get bogged down in small ones: economic cooperation, migration, security cooperation, and social issues. There is a need to preserve and consolidate the common cultural and information space in the post-Soviet countries. This is what the people of these countries want.
I would like to add that the past few months’ schedule was really intense. The events organised as part of the integration processes included a meeting of the CIS Inter-parliamentary Assembly devoted to integration issues and a meeting of the CIS heads of government in Ashgabat where more than 20 economic cooperation documents were approved. A cultural and scientific cooperation forum in Astana was another important event. Then, the Defence Ministers’ Council met and Moscow played host to the CIS Economic Council meeting. I mean, at least one event aimed at promoting integration was held every week.
A lot of work is planned for next year, too. 2008 has been announced as the year of cooperation in the sphere of transport, so the CIS Executive Committee along with other CIS bodies is making extensive efforts to implement the decisions taken.
All the senior officials I met with confirmed what I knew only too well – in addition to adopting documents and taking decisions, we must make every effort to implement them. A very obvious problem lies here; we are working on it and we expect senior officials of all the CIS member states to support our efforts.
Some of the CIS countries have recently held elections: early parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan and the regular parliamentary elections in Russia. CIS observer missions attended both events and did their monitoring work thoroughly and effectively. I recently returned from Uzbekistan where I attended the presidential elections as part of the CIS observer mission that monitored the preparations and election process. Most of our observer missions establish that the elections they observe in CIS member states are transparent and democratic. Georgia is currently preparing for its presidential elections and Armenia will hold elections on February 19, 2008. CIS observer missions have been invited to those countries, too.
Vladimir Putin: Do not forget the upcoming elections in Russia.
Sergey Lebedev: We won’t.