Optimal Strategic Line of CIS Development is to Keep Current CIS Format: Interview with CIS Secretary General

Azerbaijan, Baku, 15 March / corr. Trend A.Gasimova, E.Huseynov / Trend interview with the Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee, Executive Secretary, Secretary General, Sergey Lebedev, on the eve of his visit to Azerbaijan.

- How do You assess the informal CIS summit which took place in Moscow at the end of February?

- Very highly. The current informal summit which was attended by the all heads of the CIS countries took place traditionally without previously approved agenda. The exchange of views was held in a free regime.

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, made a speech at the meeting, who highlighted the importance of maintaining and strengthening the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Due to completion of his presidential term, the President expressed his warm gratitude to his counterparts for co-operation and presented Dmitry Medvedev, who participated in devising plans of Russia's co-operation with the CIS countries, as a candidate for presidential elections which already took place on 2 March.

Both Russian leaders stated in their speeches that the CIS is the priority of Russia's foreign policy and highlighted their support for further strengthening and development of the CIS.

An interesting speech in the summit was made by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, who especially highlighted the transport co-operation, as well as worldwide strengthening of the humanitarian co-operation and conducting of the joint youth policy within the CIS. " Azerbaijan will make all necessary efforts to support and strengthen integration relations in the CIS," Aliyev said.

I, as the Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee, informed the State Heads of the process of implementation of the Dushanbe summit, especially designing of the CIS Economic Development Strategy. The working group being comprised of the Deputy Economic Ministers has already commenced works. He sent the initial variant of the Strategy for consideration. A general agreement has been reached that the strategy should cover the period of up to 2020. In addition, there are plans to consider a closing document at the meeting of the CIS Economic Council in June and submit it to the Council of State Heads. In addition, the summit focused on the measures to raise food security, develop energy and humanitarian co-operation.

- Are You expected to make working visits to the CIS countries as a Head of the Executive Committee? When will Your visit to Azerbaijan take place?

- After I was appointed as the Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee, I already made working visits to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. As a head of the CIS observation mission, I was in the presidential elections in Uzbekistan and Armenia. During my visit, I met with the heads of these countries. I intend to make working visits to all CIS countries. I am planning to visit Azerbaijan from 17-19 March. The table of other visits is agreed.

- How do You assess the works on the CIS Economic Development Strategy?

- Today the important interest of the CIS is to strengthen integration unification which is capable to bring real economic profits to all participating countries. The appropriateness of such approach confirms the results of the economic development in the past years. They testify transition of the CIS countries from economic stability to sustainable economic development. It means that the CIS contains all conditions to devise a long-term economic integration strategy, considering general and national interests of the participating countries.

The Strategy includes 14 directions specified in the CIS Further Development Convention which was adopted in the summit in Dushanbe last year. The key role here belongs to the sectoral co-operation organizations. Their activities are one of the key components of the integration processes which provide an opportunity to govern the agricultural complexes at international level.

- Under the decision of CIS Dushanbe summit the cooperation in the transport sphere is specified as the key interaction in 2008. Why the accent is made on the transport theme? What is the demand of development of this direction in the common context of integration economic processes?

The latest years are marked with steady economic growth in the Commonwealth countries. Both foreign trade turnover and volumes of foreign trade transportation is increasing. So, the annual growth of cargo turnover in railroad transport makes up 7 or 8% since 2000. In the international automobile transportations the volumes increased more than 2.3 times through the annual increase of 10% in 2000, and the figure comprised 18 or 20% in 2007. That emerged demand in forming of the system and complex approach to tackle the problem of quarantine transport for increasing volumes of foreign trade transportation within CIS. The second important direction is to create conditions for development of transit potential of the Commonwealth on the basis of joint use of international transport corridors. Transport corridors are stable rate of freight. It is significant to create favorable organizational, technological and techniques conditions for their functioning. The States through Transport Ministries are to agree on joint utilize of these corridors. All issues of transport cooperation should be solved through coordinated transport policy. The Task Group, which unites Deputy Transport Ministers and representatives of sectoral department cooperation in the transport sphere, is to specify priorities and ways of solution of problems. The first meeting of Task Group was held on 24 January 2008. The list of priority directions for 2020 was approved during the first meeting. Formation of international transport corridor net in CIS area causes increase of efficiency of tariff policy and interaction rate of different types of transport. "These 'three whales' serves background for further development of integration processes in transport and economy in whole.

- Several experts consider that there are groups within CIS, which were united for their own grouping interest, and therefore, Commonwealth cannot stand a tool for solution of the problem. Do you agree with such treatment?

- Absolutely no. And the decisions of the latest years see the States seek to develop and deep the cooperation within CIS. It is quite legal that there will emerge different unions of States, like CIS. There is the Union of State Russia and Belorussia and Euro Asian Economic Community ( Russia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), GUAM ( Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova). These States took into consideration national interest and necessities of joint settlement of regional economic problems while establishing unions. Meanwhile, the established regional structures do not weaken the Commonwealth, but sometimes even amends it. I believe that the Commonwealth is the one structure, which allows agreeing positions for tackling of common issues. Therefore, the optimal strategic line of development of Commonwealth is possible in keep of the current format of CIS and keep of elements of different speed economic integration.

- What is the current stage of discussions on the new migration policy issue in CIS countries?

- The most important is that alongside with the Conception of further development of CIS the Plan of relevant measures to implement it was approved by Presidents of Commonwealth countries. Set of decisions were made and directed to increase of the rate of interaction of States in migration policy, and specified list of measures to prevent illegal migration and regulating labor migration. According to the values of UN experts, the number of migrants in the world reaches 250mln.

The figure comprises 10mln in CIS area. The CIS Presidential Council passed in Dushanbe the Declaration on coordinated migration policy and Decision on proposals concerning coordinated migration policy in CIS countries. Then, Presidential Council made a decision to establish the Council of Migration Department Heads of CIS states. The Council is to specify the priority directions of cooperation in regulation of migration processes, to develop coordinated migration policy within the framework of CIS, single approach for harmonize of national legislation of Commonwealth countries in the emigration sphere, to provide protection of human rights and legal rights of migrants and others. Presently, the Council is developing the project of Convention on legal status of labour-migrants and members of their family.

The first meeting of the Council was held in Minsk recently. Konstantin Romadanovskiy, director of Federal Migration Service of Russian Federation, became the chairman of the Council.

I want to thank Trend agency for questions, and using this opportunity, I would like to wish welfare and prosperity to Azerbaijani people.

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