Leaders of ex-Soviet republics meet in Moscow

AP Worldstream
May 08, 2005

Russian President Vladimir Putin told leaders of the Commonwealth
of Independent States on Sunday that their grouping of ex-Soviet
republics remained relevant today.

"It's precisely because of our efforts that the U.N. General Assembly
proclaimed May 8 and 9 the day of reconciliation and memory, and
called on states to unite their efforts to combat the successors of
Nazism, terrorism, and also ideological doctrines based on racism
and xenophobia," Putin said.

"I'm convinced that the CIS is capable of becoming an effective
instrument of such ... work."

He said that six decades after the end of what Russia terms the Great
Patriotic War, the fraternity the peoples of the Soviet Union felt
as they fought in World War II was still palpable today. Maintaining
"historical unity" was a good basis for stable development of the
countries, he said.

The meeting convened amid growing questions about the viability
of the CIS, which brings together leaders of ex-Soviet republics
with increasingly diametric views of how their countries and their
region should develop following the uprisings against the entrenched
leaderships of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

In a reflection of the disputes between the member-countries, two of
the leaders, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Azerbaijani
President Ilham Aliev, were not attending.

Saakashvili was staying away from Sunday's meeting, as well as Monday's
Victory in Europe Day celebration in Moscow, because Georgia failed
to win agreement last week on the withdrawal of Russian bases.

Aliev was boycotting because of the attendance of Armenian President
Robert Kocharian, and because Sunday is a day of mourning, marking
a key battle during the six-year war between Armenia and Azerbaijan
over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The CIS was born in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and its advocates
hoped it would foster closer integration between the newly independent
countries. However, many of its initiatives have foundered _ including
the plans to remove trade barriers that have dominated the CIS agenda
since its creation _ and it has long been criticized for being little
more than a talking shop.

The group's attempts to prove otherwise have often only fostered more
discord. Its peacekeepers have been accused of destabilizing conflict
zones in the former Soviet Union, and its election monitors _ deployed
to provide a counterbalance to Western-dominated observer missions
from such groups as the Council of Europe and the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe _ have consistently given high
marks to blatantly fraudulent ballots.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress