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Commonwealth of Independent States

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a regional intergovernmental organization focused on cooperation on political, economic, environmental, humanitarian, cultural and other issues between a number of former Soviet Republics.

On December 8, 1991 in Minsk the Agreement on the Establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed by the heads of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

According to the CIS Charter, the Council of the Heads of State is the supreme body of the Commonwealth, which discusses and resolves fundamental issues related to the activities of member states in the field of their common interests.

Meetings of the Council of the Heads of Government, the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Economic Council of the CIS are also held on a regular basis to discuss issues of interstate cooperation within the framework of the CIS.

The Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member States holds inter-parliamentary consultations, develops joint proposals in the field of activity of national parliaments.

The CIS Economic Court was established to ensure unified application of agreements between the CIS member states and the economic obligations and treaties based on them.

The Council of Permanent Plenipotentiaries of the Member States of the CIS under the statutory and other bodies of the Commonwealth facilitates the interaction of states in matters of mutual interest.

The CIS Executive Committee is a permanent executive, administrative and coordinating body of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

An important contribution to the CIS coordinated actions is made by intersectoral councils covering economically and socially significant areas of interaction. Such bodies include the heads of the relevant state authorities of the CIS member states.

Humanitarian cooperation is coordinated by the Council for Humanitarian Cooperation and the Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation of the CIS Member States. Intersectoral councils are also active in the area of security.

The central element of the economic configuration is the CIS multilateral free trade zone with a market capacity of more than 280 million people. In October 2011 the CIS Free Trade Zone Agreement was signed. The document significantly reduced the number of exemptions from the free trade regime upon import.

The headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States is located in the city of Minsk. The department of the CIS Executive Committee responsible for economic issues is situated in Moscow.

In 2021, the Republic of Belarus held the Presidency of the Commonwealth of Independent States on the basis of the Concept of Belarus’ CIS Presidency and the Plan of Action for its implementation. The main efforts were aimed at development of concerted approaches to the relevant questions of regional cooperation, ensuring comprehensive and balanced economic and social development of the CIS Member States.

In the political area the work on adopting addresses and joint statements was continued, reflecting common views of the CIS Member States on the relevant regional and global issues.

The Address by the Heads of State of the Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States to the peoples of the Member States of the Commonwealth and to the international community in connection with the eightieth anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945, and also the Statement by the Heads of Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Commonwealth of Independent States, on cooperation in the field of biological security, on developing cooperation in the field of migration, protection of the voting power and guarantees of electoral sovereignty of the CIS Member States were adopted. On the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Foreign Ministers of the CIS countries took part in the flashmob initiated by the Belarusian side "CIS Remembers". The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the CIS states adopted a joint statement on strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Texts of the documents were distributed by the Belarusian side within the UN and other international organizations. 

Special attention was paid to the implementation of the Action Program to enhance partnership between foreign policymakers of the CIS member countries and to the Plan of the multi-level inter-ministerial consultations. Measures in convergence of multilevel integration processes, including harmonization of the Commonwealth documents with the legislative framework of the Eurasian Economic Union were taken. 

A number of documents in the field of economic cooperation aimed at the development of interstate innovation cooperation, at the conduction of coordinated policy in the field of protection of intellectual property rights, prevention and suppression of offences in this area, the application of sanitary, veterinary measures, employment, management of state material reserves were adopted at the CIS heads of state meetings. 

The work on the draft of the Agreement on Free Trade in Services, Establishment, Activity and Investment between the CIS member countries was intensified, as a result of which the process has been significantly advanced.

The elaboration of the initiatives raised by the heads of delegations at the Commonwealth supreme bodies meetings, aimed at the provision of food security of the CIS member countries continued. The coordinated approaches to the strategic development of a railway transport and measures for improving its competitiveness were defined by the Concept of Strategic Development of the Railway Transport in the “area 1520” for the period till 2030, approved by the Council of the CIS heads of state.

In the humanitarian sphere the main attention was focused on the further development of cooperation and improvement of the organizational and legal base in the field of education, health, youth policy, culture, science, sport and tourism, labor and social welfare. The priority areas of cooperation remained the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the overcoming of its consequences, realization of interstate event programs and plans in all spheres of humanitarian cooperation. 

In the field of defense, the work was actively carried out on the implementation of the Concept of Military Cooperation of the CIS member countries for the period till 2025. Traditional joint exercise of armed forces within the joint defense system “Combat Commonwealth – 2021” was of a great importance. Purposeful work on practical implementation of joint measures in the field of combating terrorism, extremism and organized crime was continued within respective interstate programs.

In 2022 the CIS presidency passed to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

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