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Commonwealth of Independent States

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) — is a regional intergovernmental organization, whose main purpose is cooperation in political, economic, environmental, humanitarian, cultural and other fields among a number of former Soviet Republics.

On December 8, 1991 in Minsk the leaders of the BSSR, the RSFSR and the USSR signed an agreement «On establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States», which stipulates for formation of the CIS.

On December 21, 1991, a Protocol to the Agreement «On establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States» was signed. The document stipulated that 11 states, including the Republic of Belarus, on equal basis shall establish the Commonwealth of Independent States. They also signed an greement «On coordinating institutions of the Commonwealth of Independent States». According to this document, to settle issues related to the coordination of the Commonwealth’s activity in the field of general interests, it was decided to set up a supreme body of the Commonwealth – «The Council of Heads of States» and «The Council of Heads of Governments». Within the Commonwealth of Independent States, 84 bodies are established, including 69 bodies of branch cooperation.

According to the CIS Charter, the supreme body of the Commonwealth is  the Council of Heads of States which discusses and settles fundamental issues connected with the activity of member states in the sphere of their common interests.

Also the meetings of the Council of Heads of Governments, the Council of Ministers of foreign affairs and the CIS Economic Council are held on regular basis to discuss urgent issues associated with interstate cooperation within the CIS.

The interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member States  holds inter-parliamentary consultations, discusses cooperation problems within the Commonwealth, elaborates joint offers in the field of  national parliaments’ activity.

The  CIS Economic Court is established in order to ensure unified application of the agreements of the CIS Member States and based on the economic commitments and contracts by means of the settlement of disputes resulting from the economic relations.

During the period of meetings of CGG, CGP and CMFA the Council of permanent authorized representatives of the CIS Member States at authorized and other bodies of the Commonwealth promotes the states’ interaction  in the issues representing mutual interest.

The CIS Executive committee is unified permanent executive administrative and coordinating body of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Covering economically and socially significant fields of interaction, the intersectoral  councils contribute to formation and realization of coordinated actions of the CIS countries. Their activity is aimed at the improvement of quality of life and safety of citizens of the Commonwealth states. Bodies of branch cooperation consist of Heads of appropriate authorities of the government of the CIS Member States.

Cooperation in the humanitarian area is coordinated by the Council for humanitarian cooperation and Interstate fund of humanitarian cooperation of the  CIS member states. Also vigorous activity in the field of security and fight against criminality is carried out by intersectoral councils.

The headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States is situated in Minsk. The office of the CIS Executive committee supervising economic problems is situated in Moscow.

The activity of strengthening and improvement of mechanisms of the CIS is being continued. The Provision on chairmanship in the CIS and the Provision on national coordinators of the Member States of the CIS are accepted and implemented.

In 2008 for strengthening of an organizational component of the Commonwealth the Belarusian member introduced an initiative about implementation of chairmanship for one state during one year in all charter bodies of the CIS.  Therefore, since January 1, 2009  so-called “end-to-end chairmanship“ is being held in the CIS.

Implementation of the CIS Further Development Concept and the Plan of the principal activities for its realization became the core direction of activities within the Commonwealth.

To enhance economic cooperation within the CIS,  the Strategy of CIS economic development till 2020 was adopted.

In 2011 the Treaty «n free-trade area» was signed. The provisions of articles of a new treaty are based on the norms and rules of the WTO. Presently there are all of the actual exemptions from free trade regime, also an greement «n non-expansion of the list and non-increase of the rates of duties» and greement «n conducting negotiations between nations for gradual abolition of the remaining exemptions in free trade regime» are secured in this document.

The Interstate program of innovative cooperation of the CIS countries till 2020 was developed and accepted by the Republic of Belarus and it was approved in 2011. This program is directed at the creation of conditions to increase global competitiveness of economies of the CIS states and convert into economy of knowledge. The main objective of the Program is the creation of the interstate innovative space uniting possibilities of national innovative systems.

At the meeting of the Council of Heads of Governments in Minsk the list of 11 innovative projects is agreed within the work on filling of the Program as the concrete contents in 2013.

Belorussian scientific institutions, enterprises and institutions of higher education take part in 9 innovative projects.

The Convention on boundary cooperation and the Agreement on Council for interregional and border cooperation are signed.

During 2013 chairmanship in the Commonwealth of Independent States was implemented by the Republic of Belarus.

The Appeal of the President of the Republic of Belarus, the Chairman of the Council of Heads of States of the Commonwealth of Independent States A.G. Lukashenko was sent to the Member States of the Commonwealth in connection with the start of the Belarussian chairmanship in the CIS.

The concept of Belarus’ chairmanship was based on the motto “Integration into the benefit of the person: neighborliness strengthening, economic cooperation development, assistance to increase the availability of ecological "green" technologies, expansion of dialogue of cultures”.

The main objectives of the Belarusian chairmanship were directed at strengthening of the CIS capacity. There were interaction efficiency increase of our countries on implementation of joint economic, investment and innovative projects, complex utilization of potential of interregional and border cooperation, assistance to increase the availability of ecological “green” technologies in the Commonwealth, expansion of practice of using the CIS symbols (a flag and an emblem).

Together with partners, Belarus conducted more than 70 considerable economic, environmental, humanitarian and interregional activities.

Holding a meeting of Council of heads of states of the CIS in the capital of the Republic of Belarus and the CIS –  in Minsk on October 25, 2013  became a key event of the Belarusian presidency. It was symbolical that the Summit became the first activity in a new building – “The Palace of Independence”. The decisions made by Heads of States are equitable to interests of all States of the Commonwealth and their citizens. In particular, the big block of issues was devoted to the subjects of fight against the principal challenges of the present: terrorism and criminality. The Programs of cooperation on fight against human trafficking for 2014-2018, against terrorism and other violent manifestations of extremism for 2014-2016, against illicit drug trafficking  and counteraction of drug addiction for 2014-2018 are approved. The Interstate program of joint efforts of fight against crime for 2014-2018 is accepted. Heads of States approved the Agreement on formation of Interstate Council on corruption counteraction and the Concept of cooperation on combating crimes committed with the use of information technologies.

A lot of work on preparation for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory was held in the year of Belarussian chairmanship. The participants of CGG meeting made the decision on proclaiming 2015 the Year of veterans of the Great Patriotic War. Also they signed the decision on a single anniversary award by 70th anniversary of the Victory of the Soviet people in 1945.

Among other largest actions which took place in 2013 within Belarussian chairmanship, are holding two meetings of Council of Heads of Governments of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Minsk and St. Petersburg, two meetings of Council of Ministers of foreign affairs of the CIS in Minsk and Tashkent, four meetings of Economic Council of the Commonwealth, the third meeting of Council of interregional and border cooperation of the CIS Member States in Grodno, presentation of the best books on ecological subject of the states of the Commonwealth within the XX Minsk international book trade fair, a humanitarian action “Mogilev – the cultural capital of the CIS of 2013”, a folklore holiday of “Kupalye” in the village Alexandria of the Shklovsky district of the Mogilyov region and some other actions should be taken into consideration.

The representatives of the CIS states were given an opportunity to get acquainted with the experience of activity of euroregions “Neman” and “Lake-land” during the corresponding fact-finding tour. Belarusian party shared useful information with participants which will allow to give a new impulse to interregional and bordering cooperation on Commonwealth space.

The Forum of the creative and scientific intellectuals of the CIS States became a notable event within Belarusian chairmanship. It took place in the capital of Belarus. During the Forum such topics as education, youth policy, information policy and development of media, cultural cooperation and maintenance of historical and cultural heritage, development of tourism, medicine and others were discussed.

In the message to participants of action, CEO of UNESCO I. Bokova called the Forum  an important platform where “the best and brightest representatives” of the region have an opportunity to discuss the wide range of urgent problems.

The International youth forum of the CIS states “Friendship without borders”, whose agenda contained bright presentations of delegations of the CIS countries, round tables, and important social events, became very interesting and substantial. Within this forum interested discussions of their participants about traditions, culture and history of their countries, about the future of our people took place.

Belarus organized and successfully held the VIII Belarusian international media forum “Partnership for the sake of the future: historical and cultural heritage as a unification factor” with the international competition “Art of the Book” of the CIS states, summer school of journalism and sessions of experts. Delegations from 15 countries met on this platform for business meetings and creative discussions.

The joint project of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Communications and RUP “Belpochta” on stamp release in the circulation devoted to chairmanship of Belarus in the CIS became a notable event. the ceremony of clearing of the post block, an envelope of “the first day”, a special stamp, an art unmarked postcard and the art marked envelope took place in the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Much attention within Belarusian chairmanship was paid to the issues of further strengthening and development of a free trade zone within the Commonwealth. Activity on the project of treaty on a free trade zone of services in the CIS is sped up. Some rounds of consultations on this matter took place.

Interaction between business cooperation associations of the CIS states and representatives of small and medium business dynamically developed. Conducting a number of conferences, exhibitions and fairs in Belarus contributed to this interaction.

Due to Ukrainian refusal of implementation of chairmanship in the Commonwealth of Independent States in 2014, chairmanship in bodies of the Commonwealth was implemented in 2014 by Belarus. Such a decision was taken by the Council of Heads of CIS states on the consent of Belarus.

On May 30, 2014 a meeting of Council of Heads of Governments of the CIS was conducted under the chairmanship of Myasnikovitch M.V. (Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus). The members considered 20 issues. Heads of delegations signed 6 international treaties on cooperation in such spheres as humanitarian mine clearing, navigation providing of armed forces, transport security, repatriation of minors to the states of their continuous accommodation, scientific and technical information exchange, determination of the country of goods' origin. Decisions on such important matters as realization of Interstate program of innovative cooperation, elimination of consequences of emergency situations of natural and techno genic nature, development of hydro meteorological and radio navigational activity are also made.

The meeting of Council of CIS Heads of states in Minsk on October 10, 2014 became the principal event of the Belarusian chairmanship in the bodies of the Commonwealth in 2014. 15 issues were considered and 4 international contracts were signed during the term of meeting.

The members discussed the Appeal of Heads of CIS States to the nations of the Commonwealth countries and world community in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War and the Statement of Heads of the CIS states about conservation and strengthening of the international monitoring system over drugs.

Also problems of cooperation strengthening in the sphere of boundary safety, antiaircraft defense, of public prosecutor's bodies and divisions of financial investigation were discussed.

The second in a year meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Governments was conducted under the chairmanship of the Republic of Belarus in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) on November, 21, 2014. 30 paragraphs of the agenda in particular about the course of implementation of provisions of the Treaty on a free trade zone of October 18, 2011 and about The Nuclear and Radiation safety Concept of the CIS in the field of  atomic energy utilization in the peace purposes were discussed. 5 international treaties were signed. One of them is focused on amendment of the Agreement on Rules of identification of the country of goods' origin in the CIS and four others are connected with inventory of the contractual and legal CIS base. The list of issues touched upon giving of the “basic organization” status to educational and scientific institutions of the States of the CIS.

A number of items of the agenda was devoted to humanitarian cooperation: Plans of priority actions in the sphere of humanitarian cooperation of the CIS States for 2015- 2016 and Plans of actions for 2015-2017 on realization of Strategy of cooperation development of the CIS States in tourism till 2020.

Two-year term of chairmanship of Belarus in the Commonwealth was highly appreciated by the Member States. Achievement of a number of advanced initiatives (preparation of the draft agreement on free trade of services, consultations of heads of the financial and economic block, innovative cooperation development, creation of common agrarian market) will be continued in the future.

In 2015 chairmanship in the CIS is granted to the Republic of Kazakhstan. Belarus and Kyrgyzstan act as cochairmen of the Commonwealth.