The Council of Defence Ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States has gathered for a jubilee session in the Kyrgyz town of Cholpon-Ata, which lies near the lake Issyk-Kul.
The agenda of the session contains about 20 items, all of them dealing with military and military-technical cooperation between states of the Commonwealth, financing of the CDM in the year 2003, and organizational issues.
Opening the session, the CDM Chairman, Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, said the fact that the session was being held in a Central Asian country had "great political importance in the context of uniting efforts to combat international terrorism." The session gathered defence ministers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Moldova, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine are attending as observers.
The CDM was set up by presidents of CIS members in 1992, with the purpose of developing comprehensive military cooperation in five directions, namely, in the military-and-political sphere, military sphere, military-and-technical sphere, in the sphere of peacekeeping activity, and in the sphere of social and legal protection of servicemen and their families, as well as of retired servicemen.
Participants in the session pointed out the importance of a joint air defence system and of Collective Forces of Rapid Deployment. Both were created by the CDM and contribute greatly to security in the CIS.
The major part of the session is being held behind closed doors. The session will be followed by a press conference.
CIS defence ministers will spend Saturday, June 15 watching a joint tactical exercise and shooting practice of the CFRD at the practice center of the Kyrgyz defence ministry in the Chu region.
On the day, they will have an audience with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev.