While delivering a long speech at a Security Council session yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed transforming the Commonwealth of Independent States by highlighting two key aspects. According to the Russian leader, the CIS is not effective enough in its current form and the protracted reform process threatens this international organisation with further decline, if not worse. In other words, the moment of truth has arrived.
Mr Putin stressed that the CIS had now reached a decisive moment. In essence, member states are faced with a choice: either they work to qualitatively strengthen the CIS, and make it a genuinely working, influential regional structure in the world, or this geopolitical organisation will become irrelevant. "Moscow should prevent this turn of events," the president stated emphatically.
What prompted this speech?
The increased struggle for spheres of influence in the former Soviet Union, which involves the US, EU and countries form the Far East, has led to Russia correcting its foreign policy, as the CIS is a sphere of its vital interests. Both history and close economic links connect Russia to these countries. "We are facing growing political and economic competition in the CIS," Vladimir Putin believes. "To consolidate its positions, Russia should advance and implement effective and attractive solutions to common CIS problems."
Moreover, there is a current political dimension. It was no coincidence that Mr Putin made his speech yesterday, Sergei Markedonov, expert at the Political and Military Analysis Institute, told RIA Novosti. "Ukraine will hold elections soon. The Georgian-Ossetian conflict has escalated and the Baltic states have joined the EU," he said.
In other words, there can be no further delays. This is the moment of truth for the CIS.
Accordingly, Vladimir Putin proposed upgrading the co-operation model within the CIS. In his words, the Common Economic Space, Eurasian Economic Community and Collective Security Treaty Organization are more effective centres of regional integration, so the CIS should be reformed along their lines. The next CIS summit, which is scheduled for the autumn, will show if other CIS leaders agree with him. Whatever their decisions will be, it is clear the CIS needs to be reformed. This, at least, is obvious.