STRENGTH OF THE COMMONWEALTH
by: Yury Gavrilov

Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta, November 24, 2006, p. 6
Agency WPS
DEFENSE and SECURITY (Russia)
November 27, 2006 Monday

Defense ministers of the CIS countries broaden collective security
in Brest

Heads Of Defense Ministries Of The Cis Countries And Collective
Security Treaty Organization Gathered In Brest; Yesterday, Belarusian
city of Brest gathered a big military council. Heads of defense
ministries of the CIS countries and Collective Security Treaty
Organization met there.

Yesterday, Belarusian city of Brest gathered a big military council.

Heads of defense ministries of the CIS countries and Collective
Security Treaty Organization met there.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, chair of the council of
defense ministers of the CIS, outlined the key topics for discussion:
- We will talk about peacekeeping activities, about establishment of
a unified communication system and about improvement of the united
air defense system of the commonwealth. As to the Collective Security
Treaty Organization, we will talk about the military technological
assistance, namely armament and combat hardware supplies and training
specialists in Russian military higher educational institutions free
of charge.

It was expected that agreement on the regional air defense system of
Russia and Belarus would be signed in Brest. This document passed all
approvals. Theoretically, defense ministers and even commanders of the
air force and air defense forces can sign it according to instructions
of the presidents of the two countries. However, this procedure was
postponed again. In any case, Ivanov said that the agreement would
come into effect by the end of the year for sure.

Meanwhile, obvious and hidden contradictions among the former Soviet
republics are sometimes manifested in the most unexpected way.

For instance, Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisyan did not arrive
at the meeting of the council of defense ministers of the CIS countries
in Baku in May. The drawn-out Nagorno-Karabakh conflict makes Sarkisyan
persona non grata for Azerbaijan. At any rate, the Azerbaijani and
Armenian ministers did not refuse to meet on a neutral territory,
for example, in Belarus.

The most paradoxical situation is related to Uzbekistan. Recently,
this country announced restoration of its membership in the
Collective Security Treaty Organization. However, the Uzbek Defense
Minister somehow did not arrive at the meeting of the council of the
defense ministries in Brest where it was planned to discuss return
of Uzbekistan to the treaty separately. Instead of him he sent his
deputy for international cooperation with a rank of colonel.

This action does not contradict the bylaws of the organization but
when defense ministers ignore such meetings under various pretexts
this looks ambiguous. Meanwhile, Tashkent limited its representation
by a deputy defense minister at the meeting of the committee of chiefs
of general staff of the CIS countries in October.

One participant of the negotiations in Brest commented: - Uzbekistan
is interested not as much in cooperation via the CIS and Collective
Security Treaty Organization as in bilateral military and military
technological relations with Russia. Tashkent has very ambiguous
relations with other members of the commonwealth and the treaty in
the form of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Sometimes the matter comes
to firing exchange on their borders. That is why we cannot expect
friendly hugs from the ministers.

Of course, this is only a partial opinion and it is disputable but
it is clear that Russia remains the only real force that can unite
interests of various CIS member states now.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress