Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) — is a regional intergovernmental organization, whose the main purpose is a cooperation in political, economic, environmental, humanitarian, cultural and other fields among a number of former Soviet Republics.
On 8 December 1991in Minsk the leaders of the BSSR, the RSFSR and the USSR signed an agreement «On creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States». On 21 December 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 Àgreement «On coordinating institutions of the Commonwealth of Independent States». According to this document, to settle issues related to with the coordination of the Commonwealth 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».
The first years of the CIS were devoted to the organizational matters. At the first meeting of Heads of State of the Commonwealth on 30 December 1991 in Minsk an interim agreement on the Council of Heads of State and the Council of Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed. Each member has one vote and decisions are made by consensus. In addition, the heads of CIS states signed the Agreement «On the Armed Forces and Border Troops», in which the states confirmed their legitimate right to establish their own armed forces.
Commonwealth asset includes the development and formation of a big Legal and Regulatory Framework of interstate cooperation under new circumstances, the creation of an extensive infrastructure of sectoral cooperation and coordination of actions in key areas of the integration.
The numerous varios contacts among representatives of the Commonwealth, the growing scope of trade and economic relations, proves virile that the CIS operates, develops and improves.
Core area of work within the Commonwealth was the implementation in 2007 CIS Further Development Concept Plan in accordance with the Plan of the basic activities connected with its implementation. These documents gave new impetus to the further development of the Commonwealth, increased the effectiveness of its activities.
Priority is given to the enhancing economic cooperation. In 2008 the CIS adopted a strategy of CIS economic development till 2020.
Heads of Governments approved Priority areas of cooperation of CIS Member States in the sphere of transport for the period up to 2020, the complex of measures for the improvement of food security, the Protocol on the stages of creating a common electricity market of the CIS.
The Convention on border cooperation and an Agreement «În the Council for inter-regional and cross-border cooperation» were signed.
The CIS develops cooperation on security and law enforcement. The Concept of cooperation in the field of information security was adopted. The Program of cooperation to control illegal migration for the period of 2012-2014 years was approved, the Agreement «În cooperation in combating the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices, «On the procedure for transfer of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors», «Òhe Uniform accounting system of third country nationals and nationless people entering the territory of CIS Member States» were signed.
Priority area of cooperation within the CIS is still the cooperation in the humanitarian sphere. Humanitarian Cooperation Council, the Interstate Humanitarian Cooperation Fund of CIS Member States wich have been established set up and they are effectively functioning.
Strengthening and improvement of the mechanisms of the CIS still is in progress. The Regulations «În the Chairmanship in the CIS and Regulations of the National Coordinators of CIS Member States» are adopted and implemented.
Commonwealth – is an organization that takes into account varying degrees of countries’ willingness to integrate, provides an opportunity for each of them to take part in integration processes to the extent and in areas that meet their interests.
With the help of the Commonwealth the basis of new inter-state relations in post-Soviet countries was formed.
Today the main goal is the CIS economic cooperation. Full-scale trade-economic cooperation between the CIS Member States is a prerequisite for sustainable development of the Commonwealth.
In 2011 the Treaty «În free trade zone» 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 in this document. Also an Àgreement «În non-expansion of the list and non-increase of the rates of duties», Àgreement «În conducting negotiations between nations for gradual abolition of the remaining exceptions in free trade regime» are secured there.
The other equally important documents in the sphere of economic cooperation, which were signed in 2011, include:
During the informal summit in December, 2011 Heads of State approved the proposal on the definition of cooperation in the field of communication and informatization a key theme of the interaction of CIS Member States in the sphere of the economy in 2012.
Recognizing the inter-state innovative cooperation as a priority of the Commonwealth, on 14 November 2008 the Council of Heads of Government on the initiative of the Republic of Belarus has decided to develop innovative programs of the Interstate Cooperation of CIS Member States up to 2020, which in 2011 was approved.
The aim of the Program is to create conditions for increasing the global competitiveness of the economies of CIS Member States and for its transformation into a knowledge economy.
The main objective of the Program is the establishment of interstate innovative space that combines opportunities of national innovation systems.
Belarus offered 73 projects to the Program with the belarusian scientific institutions as the head organizations. The focus of these projects is Information and communication technologies, cellular medicine, transport sector, etc.
The Declaration, that was adopted at the Council meeting of CIS leaders in Dushanbe on 3 September 2011, the emphasis is on expanding and strengthening cooperation in the humanitarian sphere and cooperation in cultural, educational, scientific and information fields.
The Agreement «În cooperation in the creation, usage and development of an interstate network of IMC» is intended to contribute to the development of national networks of information and marketing centers (EMC) and combining them into an interstate network for the promotion of goods and services of CIS Member States in their national markets.
The Republic of Belarus did not only actively participate in the development and settlement of the above issues, but also introduced a number of initiatives.
In order to strengthen the institutional component of the Commonwealth in 2008 Belarus proposed the idea of the implementation of the presidency in all statutory bodies of the CIS for one country during one year. Thus, there has been so-called «through-the presidency» in CIS since 1 January 2009.
The humanitarian sphere includes the following matters:
The innovation sphere includes the following matters:
In the economic sphere:
In the sphere of inter-regional and cross-border cooperation:
By 2011 the CIS has been existing for 20 years since the creation. In the States of the Commonwealth a number of large-scale commemorative events were hold.
«20 years of the Commonwealth of Independent States» — the international scientific-practical conference — took place in Minsk in September, 28 – 29, 2011. Congratulatory message of the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko was addressed to participants and guests of the conference. The Prime Minister of Belarus M.V. Myasnikovich took part at the opening ceremony.
The conference brought together official representatives of CIS, Heads of the Commonwealth, prominent public and political figures, scientists, representatives of business and financial circles, all together there were about 200 people. In the final document the participants noted that largely thanks to the Commonwealth trade and economic relations have been transferred to a market basis; permanent political dialogue, cooperation in strengthening security and stability in the humanitarian sphere were established. CIS has become a unique platform for multilateral cooperation of its members in almost all areas.
Belarusian high-level ranking delegation participated in the jubilee of the Interstate exhibition – «20 years of CIS: towards new horizons of partnership» (June 28 — July 3, 2011), which took place at the All-Russian Exhibition Centre.
National exhibition of Belarus evoked great interest among visitors and guests.
Over the years, the Commonwealth proved its viability, and now continues to maintain the unique role of the «platform» for political dialogue in post-Soviet space, including dialog on the highest level. Declaration in connection with the 20th anniversary of the CIS that was adopted by the Heads of States at the anniversary summit in Moscow in December 2011 confirmed this thesis.
CIS has not lost its potential, opening up new strategic possibilities for cooperation and mutually beneficial integration.