The national interests of the member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States are best met by integration, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. On Friday, he opened a meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of State in Moscow, convened to mark the 10th anniversary of the Commonwealth, which unites 12 republics of the ex-U.S.S.R. According to the Russian president, Commonwealth members "made achievements only when they acted in a pragmatic way and when they brought closer together their many-sided, above all economic, interests." At the same time, all the setbacks, Putin went on, took place "when our intentions remained only on paper, or when we tried to impose our will on each other." Also, "problems in our interaction arose each time when states, intentionally or unintentionally, infringed on the interests of their own citizens." The matter at issue is problems faced by compatriots, Putin said. He emphasised that "for Russia where many CIS citizens live it has always been a matter of principle to create worthy living conditions for them." Another lesson is economic, the president pointed out. "We have already gone through the stage in integration which was called resumption of the so-called national economic ties. Now we have a right to speak of another stage - new international division of labour in the CIS economy," Putin said. He described the CIS as a "huge common market with a serious potential for development on a modern market basis." The economic partnership of CIS countries was predetermined not only by their common history but also by their common infrastructure, compatibility of their technical and other standards, and energy and transport systems, the president pointed out. Nowadays, it is particularly important to be able to see these advantages and use them, he said.
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