Speech by President Islam Karimov at the Session of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Council of the Heads of State

Distinguished Chairman!

Dear Heads of State!

It gives me a great satisfaction to greet the heads of CIS nations and extend my sincere gratefulness to President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko for a warm reception and hospitality.

Our meeting, as it has been noted here, is taking place amid a speedily changing international situation, a mounting geopolitical tension and political confrontation, an ongoing global financial and economic crisis with no clear signs as to when it is going to end or ease, a radicalizing and galvanizing religious fanaticism, an intensifying contention in our immediate environment and beyond.

To be sure, we cannot stand unalarmed by the scales of the crawling violence, the real threats of terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, by the aggressive appeals of some politicians and state-mongers who have lost control of themselves, especially speaking on television channels, who suddenly caught themselves feeling as masters of the situation, exacerbating the situation and bringing the antagonism emerging in certain countries to a bloody massacre.

It is not hard to imagine what tragic consequences the underestimation of the unfolding distressing circumstances can lead to.  

A case in mind is the fratricidal war in Afghanistan underway for about 35 years and which has produced millions of human victims and another millions of refugees as well as a complete destruction of the national economy and devastation. A new generation has grown up that is capable today of nothing but holding and using arms.  Although it was initially known on the examples from Afghanistan’s history that that country is hard to conquer. We have as though let through all these cases and thus are convinced that the Afghan crisis does not have a military solution.

As Afghanistan’s close neighbors, we are absolutely confident today that only a soonest completion of processes in the formation of the new Afghan government, which would represent the principal contending ethnic-religious political forces, can lay a road to a diminishing level of instability, to a liquidation of poverty, can restore the destroyed economy and secure peace and calmness in the country.

As far as the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis is concerned, we are convinced that only a denunciation of the application of forceful methods as a way to address all the emerging issues, only the use of political means built on the fundamental norms of international law and the UN Charter, only an unconditional adherence by the sides – not in words, but in deeds – to the Minsk Accords on ceasefire and truce can shape an environment essential for negotiations to reach peace in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, serious political issues that were envisaged and which cannot be managed without have simply not been embarked on in the negotiating processes.

There is another issue that is directly related to the current meeting of CIS heads of state. Literally two days ago, the hot news of the hour was the information that the President of Ukraine P.Poroshenko would attend our session. However, yesterday evening it became clear that Mr. Poroshenko would not come to the meeting and that his plans underwent modification. In our view, such a decision is hard to agree with. It has been already a year since the problem of confrontation in Ukraine turned into one of the most pressing and urgent issues of the contemporary times that is discussed around the world, including the post-Soviet space. By the way, by means of television, people even in the remotest of our districts and kishlaks are pretty informed about the developments in Ukraine. In circumstances as such, there are no indifferent people, and practically all are enough knowledgeable of what has happened and what triggered everything. Everyone has been eager to know when and how this absolutely unnatural confrontation between the conflicting parties will end, a clash that should cease as soon as possible.   

Let us ask ourselves a question as to which one of us, the leaders of CIS nations, has met with Mr. Poroshenko in person. The answer is: a mere handful of us have. For the past period he has been to many countries of Europe, especially in Brussels, and other nations.

Nonetheless, one could have made use of today’s opportunity to attend and take part in the session of the CIS summit meeting. By the way, Ukraine is still a member of the Commonwealth. Emerging impression is that Mr. Poroshenko’s stance has evidently been dividing into two and that he is still unable to decide whether quitting the CIS is to his good or bad. Crucially, had he spoken here today, we would have been offered a greater clarity with regard to the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis. Yet, unfortunate as it is, that is not the case.

Dear friends!

Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko, presiding over our meeting, underscored in conclusion to his speech that it is time to openly discuss the prospects of the CIS.

For us, the importance of the Commonwealth is obvious, so is our factual interestedness in building up the mutually advantageous, multifaceted cooperation with all our partners, with an eye to one another’s interests.

In the Commonwealth we see an institution providing extensive opportunities for maintaining direct international dialogue, for discussing urgent issues, resolving the differences and disputes among member countries with an account of the created and sufficiently robust acting normative base, garnered instruments and mechanisms of interaction.

The CIS serves as a platform for the elaboration of mutually suitable approaches, coordinated practical measures to assist with the sustainable development of our countries, to actively use the available potential in the sphere of trade and economic cooperation, to timely preempt, counter and neutralize the terrorist and extremist activities and, what is imperative, to stimulate communication among citizens in the post-Soviet area. Today, there are few countries in this part of the world that can imagine of generally existing further on without communication on the basis of the agreement base instituted in the CIS. In these circumstances, even in Georgia there are beliefs that they made a grave mistake in that particular time.  

Securing sustainable development in the CIS space is contingent first and foremost on us – the states of the Commonwealth. What I mean is the willingness to find common language with our neighbors and those further, to pursue well-thought-out socio-economic policies with effectiveness, provide for worthwhile living standards for the population, and consolidate our societies around creative and constructive objectives and purposes.

Achievement of these target goals, creation of ultimately favorable conditions for the enhancement of mutual trade and investments among our countries will by and large be facilitated by the formation and the soonest launch of a full-fledged free trade zone in the CIS area built on principles that do not distress the trade regime existing among the nations. Earlier today, I have listened with great satisfaction to the proposal by Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin that it is already time to launch this regime as the most appealing model to cement our relations.

This is an only economic model capable of making our peoples closer and tackling once and forever those issues that we – down the drain – fail to attach significance to and which are subject to rather serious haggling.  

I would like to take this opportunity to declare once again that we do not see any impediments for the activity of the CIS, taking the simultaneous formation of other integration associations in the post-Soviet space into account. In particular, what I mean is the Eurasian Economic Union. Here we encounter no problem that would be subject to discussion.

At the same time, we deem it important that each of these interstate associations, particularly the CIS as the basic entity, on whose basis the Eurasian Economic Union is being built on (by the way, it would be of good use to think over what foundation this union is being built on) build its work independently, have an agenda of its own, a concept and a long-term development program, by not substituting and repeating each other. If these conditions are not met, it will be hard to bank on a coordinated activity of these associations.

In this sense, the current discussion of issues related to the CIS is suggestive once again of our judicious consideration of them. Sitting in this very hall, I stressed it in the past, as well, that I deem it as only a PR and not anything else by believing that these processes would keep on, by coming here and traveling to other countries for stock sessions of CIS summits. Thus I join my colleagues who believe these issues, especially the prospects of the CIS, need to be thought over seriously.  

Thank you for attention.

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Today: 27.09.2020
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