Meeting of CIS Heads of State Council 2021-10-15 13:20:00 Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region Vladimir Putin took part, via videoconference, in a meeting of the Heads of State Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The summit is being held in the year of the 30th anniversary of the CIS (established on December 8, 1991). The CIS leaders summed up the main results of multilateral cooperation within the CIS, reviewed prospects for its further development, and exchanged views on current international and regional matters. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Belarus and Chairman of the Heads of State Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova Natalia Gavrilita, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Turkmenistan and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, and President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, as well as Chairman of the Executive Committee and Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States Sergei Lebedev and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei. The summit participants approved the Statement by the Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States on the 30th Anniversary of the CIS. *** Speech by President of Russia at the CIS Heads of State Council meeting President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends, I welcome the participants in this meeting, and, just as my colleagues, I would like to express gratitude to Mr Alexander Lukashenko personally and to our Belarusian friends for organising this summit and generally for their active work during the Belarusian CIS Chairmanship this year. The agenda of our meeting is quite full and topical. We certainly support the Statement on the 30th Anniversary of the CIS drafted at the initiative of our Belarusian colleagues. This statement sums up the main results of the organisation’s activities and defines the long-term objectives of its development. In fact, the CIS has come a long way during these three decades and established itself as an authoritative regional integration association, whose member states seek to base their relations upon the principles of neighbourliness, partnership, mutual benefit and regard for the interests of each other. But perhaps the main thing is that owing to the CIS we have managed to preserve and in some areas even to promote the economic, social, cultural and humanitarian ties that we forged over the many years of our common existence within a single state. Unfortunately, sometimes differences and controversies do happen. Even worse, they sometimes evolve into open conflicts opposing specific CIS member states, as was unfortunately the case last year with the events in Nagorno-Karabakh. My colleagues have already mentioned this, and I would like to thank them for what they said about Russia’s actions. It is with the help of our country that it was possible to stop the conflict, and the Russian peacekeeping force guarantees the truce that was negotiated. Russia also helps with humanitarian deliveries and demining operations. Let me emphasise that we are helping both sides and working in two countries, in Armenia and Azerbaijan, to restore essential infrastructure and provide medical assistance to the population. Tens of thousands of refugees, over 52,000 people, have returned home. All this once again proves the wisdom of the sayings we have in Russia that bad peace is always better than a good war, or what matters in any dispute is how it gets resolved. In fact, the key mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States is to create conditions for peaceful cooperation and joint efforts for the sake of prosperity and development of our countries and improving the well-being of our people. This is what the updated Concept of Further Development of the CIS and the CIS Economic Development Strategy until 2030 are all about. In fact, these documents set out a long-term programme of action for creating an integrated political, economic, cultural and humanitarian association of interested countries, empowering each of its members to develop effectively, promoting fruitful trade and economic cooperation and the effective operation of a free trade zone. All this calls for a professional dialogue. It is clear that the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic persist in the economy and stand in the way of contacts and cooperation. At the same time, we can note in all satisfaction that trade and investment cooperation indicators within the CIS are improving, or at least beginning to improve. Trade within the CIS increased by almost 27 percent in the first six months of the year, with new prospects for launching major joint investment and infrastructure projects for better connectivity within the CIS and drawing economies and companies into Eurasian value chains in manufacturing and transport. It is important that business communities in CIS member states become increasingly interested in working together to promote the green economy, digital transformation and introducing innovations on a wide scale, as well as using natural resources in a comprehensive and sustainable manner. To carry out projects in all these spheres, it is essential to ensure access to skilled labour resources, improve vocational training, and create favourable conditions for people from CIS countries working within the Commonwealth. It is for this reason that Russia came forward with the idea to have CIS member states adopt a joint statement following today’s meeting on promoting cooperation on migration. This statement calls on our countries to step up efforts in harmonising our contractual legal frameworks regarding labour law, training labour migrants, and developing digital platforms for streamlining employment-related processes. This is important for all of us. In this context, the humanitarian dimension is just as important as the economic aspects. Cultural, educational, academic, civil-society, youth, travel and sports exchanges are very popular among our people and help strengthen friendship and mutual understanding among them. The CIS countries have a great deal in common: their history, spiritual roots, the intertwined cultures, customs and traditions, and of course the Russian language. I would like to express my special gratitude to Mr Lukashenko for stressing this point. The Russian language is the unifying force that brings together the CIS into a single civilisational space. Colleagues, We all understand and know that many labour migrants from the CIS work in Russia. It is important for us, just as it is for you, to ensure that people adapt and live normal lives in Russia. At the very least, they need to speak Russian. They need to understand Russia, its culture and how various ethnic groups in Russia and the former Soviet Union have been living together in order to integrate in society and live a full life in our country, instead of just earning a living. Let me remind you that at the previous summit in December 2020 we decided to declare 2023 in the CIS the Year of the Russian Language as the Language for Inter-Ethnic Communication. We believe the initiatives listed in the programme for this year are quite useful. They are designed to support, preserve and promote the Russian language and culture. We are certain that all this will be a mutually enriching experience for CIS members countries both from a spiritual and cultural perspectives. I would like to place a special emphasis on the need to further expand cooperation and interaction in mass communications and media sectors, and in the information space in general. Our countries have co-founded MIR, an interstate television and radio broadcasting company. I have every reason to believe that it has been working at the highest professional level as a world-class media outlet and has deserved our praise. Preserving the memory of our common Victory in the Great Patriotic War is a priority for all of us. We are grateful to our CIS partners for supporting Russia’s initiatives put forward within international platforms to preserve the historical truth and counter attempts to justify Nazism in all its manifestations. I strongly believe that we need to keep showing solidarity in defending the memory of the feats accomplished by our people, and the sacrifices our people made to defeat Nazism. Colleagues, Russia has one more initiative I would like to share with you. I am referring to the joint statement that was drafted for today’s summit and deals with protecting the electoral rights of citizens and guaranteeing electoral sovereignty. In this statement, the CIS countries express their commitment to the key principles of international law on respecting the sovereignty of independent states and non-interference in domestic affairs, including electoral processes. I think that you will agree on the importance of this subject for all our states. In September, Russia held elections to the State Duma, and the vote took place in strict compliance with the law and with a high voter turnout. I would like to emphasise that we must continue to firmly defend and encourage the enjoyment of electoral rights and freedoms by supporting solid democratic institutions and the rule of law. We are ready to closely cooperate with our CIS partners in these efforts. We are also ready to closely coordinate our efforts in resolving topical regional and international problems. I am confident that the CIS member states have big potential for facilitating the resolution of problems in the Eurasian space and jointly countering the challenges and threats to security and stability in our common region. The situation in Afghanistan is a source of concern and this subject is bound to be brought up again. Of course, I agree with our colleagues who spoke about it. This situation harbours risks for Central Asia and the entire CIS space although some countries are not part of this region. Nonetheless, this situation requires that we invigorate our joint efforts, primarily, in countering terrorism and drug trafficking. There is an obvious concentration of extremist and terrorist groups near the CIS borders: ISIS, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Jamaat Ansarullah, al-Qaeda and many others. In our estimate, the ISIS group in the north of Afghanistan alone numbers 2,000 people. Their leaders are planning to spread their influence to Central Asian states and Russian regions and are placing their bets on fuelling interethnic strife and religious hatred. Terrorists are striving to penetrate CIS territory, in part, under the guise of refugees. Unfortunately, the Taliban-established transitional government does not represent the entire range of Afghan society. At the same time, the intention to hold general elections has been announced, and measures are being taken to resume the normal functioning of government bodies. We will certainly monitor together in the CIS framework whether these words are matched by deeds. I agree with my colleagues who spoke earlier, for instance, the President of Kazakhstan, that we should not rush to recognise the Taliban officially. We realise it is necessary to interact with them but there must be no haste with this, either. We will discuss all this together and consult each other. Nevertheless, it is essential to promote intra-Afghan reconciliation and generally to strive for normalisation there. All of us can facilitate the resumption of the work done by the extended Troika, that is, Russia, the United States and China with Pakistan’s participation, and I would like to ask you to support this. We can also promote the resumption of the Moscow format, in which the region’s key countries, including Central Asian states, take part. We are working to hold meetings within these mechanisms in Moscow as early as possible in October. Drug production in and drug smuggling out of Afghanistan are still extremely grave problems. It is a serious challenge. Afghanistan remains the world’s biggest supplier of opiates accounting for 90 percent of the global market. Despite their promises to fight drug production, the Taliban in reality… I do not know whether they are willing or able to do that… They did it the last time they were in power, and successfully, but today it will not be easy for them to give up this source of revenue, especially given the economic crisis in Afghanistan. The Treaty on Countering the Legalisation of Proceeds from Crime, the Financing of Terrorism and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which we are to sign today, is creating a good basis for joint efforts by the CIS countries in their fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. The specialised financial divisions of the CIS are being given up-to-date legal mechanisms to combat money laundering. Yet another security-related issue concerns biological security. I would like to thank our CIS partners for supporting the draft statement outlining priorities in the joint work to ensure sanitary-epidemiological safety of the population, protect public health and address dangerous biological factors. We are confident that the CIS states will jointly develop a system to monitor biological risks, exchange information on matters related to fighting epidemics and infectious diseases, respond to health emergencies, and consolidate the legal infrastructure of this professional cooperation. On the whole, we in the CIS have many pressing challenges to address together. I would certainly like to wish our friends from Kazakhstan, who will assume the CIS Chairmanship in 2022, success in promoting constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation and strengthening even further the close, neighbourly ties between our countries. Thank you for your attention. Thank you very much.