Commonwealth of Independent States

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Commonwealth of
Independent States
Содружество Независимых Государств
Sodruzhestvo Nezavisimyh Gosudarstv
     Member states      Disputed territory[1][2]      Associate state
     Member states      Disputed territory[1][2]
     Associate state
Administrative seats
Largest cityMoscow
Working languageRussian
TypeIntergovernmental
Membership
9 member states
1 associate state
Leaders
• General Secretary
Sergey Lebedev
LegislatureInterparliamentary Assembly[3]
Establishment
8 December 1991
21 December 1991
22 January 1993
20 September 2012
Area
• Total
20,368,759[4] km2 (7,864,422 sq mi)
Population
• 2018 estimate
Increase 236,446,000
(excluding Crimea)
• Density
11.77/km2 (30.5/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
• Total
$5.5 trillion
• Per capita
$22,500 (approx.)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
$2.5 trillion
• Per capita
$9,000 (approx.)
HDI (2017)0.740
high
CurrencyNo common currencya
Associate state
Time zoneUTC+2 to +12
Driving sideright
Internet TLD.ru, .by, .am, .kz, .kg, .az, .md, .tj, .uz
Website
e-cis.info
a Soviet ruble (руб) used from 1991 to 1994

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)[a] is a regional intergovernmental organization in Eurasia. It was formed following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. It covers an area of 20,368,759 km2 (7,864,422 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 239,796,010. The CIS encourages cooperation in economic, political, and military affairs and has certain powers relating to the coordination of trade, finance, lawmaking, and security, including cross-border crime prevention.

As the Soviet Union disintegrated, Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine signed the Belovezha Accords on 8 December 1991, declaring that the Union had effectively ceased to exist and proclaimed the CIS in its place. On 21 December, the Alma-Ata Protocol was signed. The Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) chose not to participate. Georgia withdrew its membership in 2008 following the Russo-Georgian War. Ukraine formally ended its participation in CIS statutory bodies in 2018, although it had stopped participating in the organization in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.[5][6][7] Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine starting from 24 February 2022, Moldova voiced its intention to progressively withdraw from the CIS institutional framework.[8][9]

Eight of the nine CIS member states participate in the CIS Free Trade Area. Three organizations originated from the CIS, namely the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union (alongside subdivisions, the Eurasian Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Space); and the Union State. While the first and the second are military and economic alliances, the third aims to reach a supranational union of Russia and Belarus with a common government, currency, and so on.

History and structure[edit]

Background[edit]

Signing of the Belovezh Accords, 8 December 1991

The CIS as a shared Russophone social, cultural, and economic space has its origins in the Russian Empire, which was replaced in 1917 by the Russian Republic after the February Revolution earlier that year. Following the October Revolution, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the leading republic in the Soviet Union (USSR) upon its creation with the 1922 Treaty and Declaration of the Creation of the USSR along with Byelorussian SSR, Ukrainian SSR and Transcaucasian SFSR.

In March 1991, amidst Perestroika and a rising political crisis in the country, Mikhail Gorbachev, the president of the Soviet Union, proposed a federation by holding a referendum to preserve the Union as a union of sovereign republics. The new treaty signing never happened as the Communist Party hardliners staged an attempted coup in Moscow August that year.

Founding[edit]

Following the events of the failed 1991 coup, many republics of the USSR declared their independence fearing another coup. A week after the Ukrainian independence referendum was held, which kept the chances of the Soviet Union staying together low, the Commonwealth of Independent States was founded in its place on 8 December 1991 by the Byelorussian SSR, the Russian SFSR, and the Ukrainian SSR, when the leaders of the three republics met at the Belovezhskaya Pushcha Natural Reserve,[10] about 50 km (31 mi) north of Brest in Belarus, and signed the "Agreement Establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States", known as the Belovezh Accords (Russian: Беловежские соглашения, romanizedBelovezhskiye soglasheniya).

The CIS announced that the new organization would be open to all republics of the former Soviet Union and to other nations sharing the same goals. The CIS charter stated that all the members were sovereign and independent nations and thereby effectively abolished the Soviet Union. On 21 December 1991, the leaders of eight additional former Soviet Republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) signed the Alma-Ata Protocol which can either be interpreted as expanding the CIS to these states or the proper foundation or foundation date of the CIS,[11] thus bringing the number of participating countries to 11.[12] Georgia joined two years later, in December 1993.[13] At this point, 12 of the 15 former Soviet Republics participated in the CIS, the three non-participants being the Baltic states, which were occupied by the Soviet Union. The CIS and Soviet Union also legally co-existed briefly with each other until 26 December 1991, when the Soviet of the Republics formally dissolved the Soviet Union. This was followed by Ivan Korotchenya becoming Executive Secretary of the CIS on the same day.[14]

After the end of the dissolution process of the Soviet Union, Russia and the Central Asian republics were weakened economically and faced declines in GDP. Post-Soviet states underwent economic reforms and privatisation.[journal 1][15] The process of Eurasian integration began immediately after the break-up of the Soviet Union to salvage economic ties with Post-Soviet republics.[journal 2]

CIS Charter[edit]

The 20–22 June 2000 CIS Summit

On 22 January 1993, the Charter (Statutes) of the CIS was signed, setting up the different institutions of the CIS, their functions, and the rules and statutes of the CIS. The Charter also defined that all countries that have ratified the Agreement on the Establishment of the CIS and its relevant (Alma-Ata) Protocol would be considered to be founding states of the CIS, with only those countries ratifying the Charter being considered to be member states of the CIS (art. 7). Other states can participate as associate members or observers if accepted as such by a decision of the Council of Heads of State to the CIS (art. 8).

All the founding states apart from Ukraine and Turkmenistan ratified the Charter of the CIS and became member states of it. Nevertheless, Ukraine and Turkmenistan kept participating in the CIS, without being member states of it. Turkmenistan became an associate member of the CIS in August 2005. Georgia left the CIS altogether in 2009 and Ukraine stopped participating in 2018.

General Secretary[edit]

The work of CIS is coordinated by the General Secretary.

General Secretaries
Name Term
Belarus Ivan Korotchenya [ru] 14 May 1993 – 29 April 1998
Russia Boris Berezovsky 29 April 1998 – 4 March 1999
Belarus Ivan Korotchenya [ru] 4 March 1999 – 2 April 1999
Russia Yury Yarov 2 April 1999 – 14 July 2004
Russia Vladimir Rushailo 14 July 2004 – 5 October 2007
Russia Sergei Lebedev 5 October 2007 – Present

Interparliamentary Assembly[edit]

The Interparliamentary Assembly was established on 27 March 1992 in Kazakhstan. On 26 May 1995, the CIS leaders signed the Convention on the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States eventually ratified by nine parliaments, the only CIS member not signing was Georgia. Under the terms of the convention, the InterParliamentary Assembly (IPA) was invested with international legitimacy.

It is housed in the Tauride Palace in St Petersburg and acts as the consultative parliamentary wing of the CIS, created to discuss problems of parliamentary cooperation, review draft documents of common interest, and pass model laws to the national legislatures in the CIS (as well as recommendations) for their use in the preparation of new laws and amendments to existing legislation. More than 130 documents have been adopted that ensure the convergence of laws in the CIS at the level of national legislation. The Assembly is actively involved in the development of integration processes in the CIS and also sends observers to the national elections.[16] The Assembly held its 32nd Plenary meeting in Saint Petersburg on 14 May 2009.

Further developments[edit]

Between 2003 and 2005, three CIS member states experienced a change of government in a series of colour revolutions: Eduard Shevardnadze was overthrown in Georgia; Viktor Yushchenko was elected in Ukraine; and Askar Akayev was toppled in Kyrgyzstan.

In February 2006, Georgia withdrew from the Council of Defense Ministers, with the statement that "Georgia has taken a course to join NATO and it cannot be part of two military structures simultaneously",[17] but it remained a full member of the CIS until August 2009, one year after officially withdrawing in the immediate aftermath of the Russo-Georgian War.

In March 2007, Igor Ivanov, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, expressed his doubts concerning the usefulness of the CIS, emphasizing that the Eurasian Economic Community was becoming a more competent organization to unify the largest countries of the CIS.[18] Following the withdrawal of Georgia, the presidents of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan skipped the October 2009 meeting of the CIS, each having their own issues and disagreements with the Russian Federation.[19]

In May 2009, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine joined the Eastern Partnership (EaP), a project that was initiated by the European Union (EU). The EaP framework governs the EU's relationship with the post-Soviet states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.[20]

Membership[edit]

There are nine full member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The Creation Agreement remained the main constituent document of the CIS until January 1993, when the CIS Charter (Russian: Устав, tr. Ustav) was adopted.[21] The charter formalized the concept of membership: a member country is defined as a country that ratifies the CIS Charter (sec. 2, art. 7). Additional members can join with the consent of all current members.[22] Parties that ratified the Creation Agreement before the adoption of the Charter are considered to be "Founding states", but not members.

Member states[edit]

Country[23] Signed Agreement ratified Charter ratified Notes
 Armenia 21 December 1991 18 February 1992 16 March 1994 [22] Founding state. Signatory of the Alma-Ata Protocol
 Azerbaijan 21 December 1991 24 September 1993 14 December 1993 [22] Signatory of the Alma-Ata Protocol.
 Belarus 8 December 1991 10 December 1991 18 January 1994 [22] Founding state. Signatory of both the Belovezha Accords and the Alma-Ata Protocol.
 Kazakhstan 21 December 1991 23 December 1991 20 April 1994 [22] Founding state. Signatory of the Alma-Ata Protocol.
 Kyrgyzstan 21 December 1991 6 March 1992 12 April 1994 [22] Founding state. Signatory of the Alma-Ata Protocol.
 Moldova 21 December 1991 8 April 1994 27 June 1994 [22] Signatory of the Alma-Ata Protocol.
Active participation in CIS ceased in November 2022.[8]
 Russia 8 December 1991 12 December 1991 20 July 1993 [22] Founding state. Signatory of both the Belovezha Accords and the Alma-Ata Protocol.
 Tajikistan 21 December 1991 26 June 1993 14 August 1993 [22] Signatory of the Alma-Ata Protocol.
 Uzbekistan 21 December 1991 4 January 1992 9 February 1994 [22] Founding state. Signatory of the Alma-Ata Protocol.

Moldova[edit]

In light of Russia's support for the independence of occupied regions within Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine[24][25][26] as well as its violation of the Istanbul Agreement (see Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty), legislative initiatives to denounce the agreement on the creation of CIS were tabled in Moldova's parliament on 25 March 2014, though they were not approved.[27][28][29] A similar bill was proposed in January 2018.[30][31]

On 14 June 2022, Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicu Popescu said the Moldovan government was considering the prospect of leaving the CIS, although at the end of May President Maia Sandu had said the country would not leave for the time being.[9] An August 2021 poll conducted in Moldova (prior to the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine) found that 48.1% of respondents supported Moldova's withdrawal from the CIS.[32]

On 30 November 2022, Popescu stated that Moldova will suspend its participation in CIS meetings,[8] and on 23 February 2023 stated that Moldova has started withdrawing from multiple treaties that the country had signed with the CIS, as his country aims to join the European Union.[33] On 15 May 2023, the President of the Parliament of Moldova, Igor Grosu, stated the country will withdraw from the agreement establishing the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly; he argued that being in the CIS "did not protect the Republic of Moldova from energy blackmail in the middle of winter, from threats and official statements hostile to the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova".[34]

As part of the process to severing connections with the CIS, in July 2023 Moldova passed a law on denunciation of the agreement on Moldova's membership in the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS countries.[35] 70 agreements were denounced by October 2023, from the total of around 282 signed by Moldova.[36]

Associate member[edit]

A country can become an associate member under the CIS Charter (sec. 2, art. 8) if approved by the Council of Heads of States. Participation of associate members and of the observers in the work of the Commonwealth organs shall be governed by their rules of procedures.[22]

Country[23] Signed Agreement ratified Charter ratified Associate from Notes
 Turkmenistan 21 December 1991 26 December 1991 Not ratified August 2005 Founding state. Signatory of the Alma-Ata Protocol. Has never been a full member.

Two states, Ukraine and Turkmenistan ratified the CIS Creation Agreement before the adoption of the CIS Charter in January 1993, making them "founding states of the CIS", but did not ratify the Charter itself that would make them full members. These states, while not being formal members of the CIS, were allowed to participate in CIS.[37] They were also allowed to participate in various CIS initiatives, e.g. the Free Trade Area,[38] which were, however, formulated mostly as independent multilateral agreements, and not as internal CIS agreements.

Turkmenistan has not ratified the Charter and therefore is not formally a member of the CIS. Nevertheless, it has consistently participated in the CIS as if it were a member state.

Turkmenistan changed its CIS standing to associate member as of 26 August 2005. The cited reason was to be consistent with its 1995-proclaimed, UN-recognised, international neutrality status, but experts have cited the country no longer needing Russia to provide natural gas access, as well as the country's declining faith in the confederation's ability to maintain internal stability in light of the Colour Revolutions.[39][40]

Founding state[edit]

The Verkhovna Rada never ratified the agreement on membership of the CIS in accordance with the CIS Charter so never became a member.[41]

Ukraine did not apply to become an Associate member, nor was it granted by the Council of Heads of States, accordingly Ukraine remained just a Founding state.

Ukraine did participate in the CIS and became an associate member of the CIS Economic Union in 1994,[42] and signed the Commonwealth of Independent States Free Trade Area in 2011.

Ukraine withdrew its representatives from the CIS in May 2018 and stopped actively participating in the CIS, but remained a party to a number of agreements, such as the free trade area.

Country Signed Agreement ratified Charter ratified Notes
 Ukraine 8 December 1991 10 December 1991 Not ratified Founding state. Signatory of both the Belovezha Accords and the Alma-Ata Protocol. Has never been a full member.
  • Largely ceased to participate from 2014
  • Withdrew its representatives in May 2018[43]
  • Denounced various CIS treaties as of 2023
  • Has not formally withdrawn from the Creation Agreement, thus it continues to be recognised as a founder.
Representatives of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other states at the 20–22 June 2000 CIS Summit in Moscow

Although Ukraine was one of the states which ratified the Creation Agreement in December 1991, making it a Founding State of the CIS, it chose not to ratify the CIS Charter[44][45] as it disagrees with Russia being the only legal successor state to the Soviet Union. Thus it has never been a full member of the CIS.[13][46] However, Ukraine had kept participating in the CIS, with the consent of the Council of Heads of States, even though it was not a member. Ukraine has never applied for, or been granted, Associate member status.

Following the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war in February 2014, relations between Ukraine and Russia deteriorated, leading Ukraine to consider ending its participation in the CIS. As Ukraine never ratified the Charter, it could cease its informal participation in the CIS. However, to fully terminate its relationship with the CIS, it would need to legally withdraw from the Creation Agreement, as Georgia did previously. On 14 March 2014, a bill was introduced to Ukraine's parliament to denounce their ratification of the CIS Creation Agreement, but it was never approved.[47][48][49] Following the 2014 parliamentary election, a new bill to denounce the CIS agreement was introduced.[50][51] In September 2015, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Ukraine will continue taking part in the CIS "on a selective basis".[52][53] Since that month, Ukraine has had no representatives in the CIS Executive Committee building.[52]

In April 2018, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko indicated that Ukraine would formally leave the CIS.[54] On 19 May 2018, Poroshenko signed a decree formally ending Ukraine's participation in CIS statutory bodies.[55]

As of 1 June 2018, the CIS secretariat had not received formal notice from Ukraine of its withdrawal from the CIS, a process that would take one year to complete, following notice being given.[56] The CIS secretariat stated that it will continue inviting Ukraine to participate.[57][58][59] Ukraine has stated that it intends to review its participation in all CIS agreements and only continue in those that are in its interests. On 3 May 2023 Ukraine formally withdrew from the 1992 agreement that set up the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly.[60] In 2023 and 2024 Ukraine also withdrew from a number of agreements including the 2001 Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) agreement on cooperation in the provision of safety of hazardous industrial facilities, the 1996 CIS agreement on cooperation in evacuating nationals from third countries in emergencies, the 1992 Agreement between the State Parties of the Commonwealth of Independent States on social and legal guarantees of the military personnel, persons discharged from military service, and members of their families, the 1992 Agreement on the Establishment of the Council of Commanders of the Border Troops and the Agreement on the Creation of the Interstate System of Documentary Encrypted Communications of the Commonwealth of Independent States.[61][62]

Former member states[edit]

Country Signed Agreement ratified Charter ratified Withdrawn Effective Notes
 Georgia 3 December 1993 3 December 1993 19 April 1994 [22] 18 August 2008 18 August 2009 Withdrew as a result of the Russo-Georgian War of 2008.

Following the overthrow of Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia, Georgia officially withdrew from the Council of Defense Ministers in February 2006,[63] stating that "Georgia has taken a course to join NATO and it cannot be part of two military structures simultaneously".[64] However, it remained a full member of the CIS.

In the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian War in 2008, President Saakashvili announced during a public speech in the capital city Tbilisi that Georgia would leave the CIS[65] and the Georgian Parliament voted unanimously on 14 August 2008 to withdraw from the regional organization.[66] On 18 August 2008 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia sent a note to the CIS Executive Committee notifying it of the aforesaid resolutions of the Parliament of Georgia and Georgia’s withdrawal from CIS.[67] In accordance with the CIS Charter (sec. 1, art. 9),[68] Georgia's withdrawal came into effect 12 months later, on 18 August 2009.[69][70]

Politics[edit]

Meeting of CIS leaders in Bishkek, 2008

Human rights[edit]

Since its inception, one of the primary goals of the CIS has been to provide a forum for discussing issues related to the social and economic development of the newly independent states. To achieve this goal member states have agreed to promote and protect human rights. Initially, efforts to achieve this goal consisted merely of statements of goodwill, but on 26 May 1995, the CIS adopted a Commonwealth of Independent States Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.[71]

In 1991, four years before the 1995 human rights treaty, article 33 of the Charter of the CIS created a Human Rights Commission with its seat in Minsk, Belarus. This was confirmed by the decision of the Council of Heads of States of the CIS in 1993. In 1995, the CIS adopted a human rights treaty that includes civil and political as well as social and economic human rights. This treaty entered into force in 1998. The CIS treaty is modelled on the European Convention on Human Rights, but lacking the strong implementation mechanisms of the latter. In the CIS treaty, the Human Rights Commission has very vaguely defined authority. The Statute of the Human Rights Commission, however, also adopted by the CIS Member States as a decision, gives the commission the right to receive inter-state as well as individual communications.[citation needed]

CIS members, especially in Central Asia, continue to have among the world's poorest human rights records. Many activists point to examples such as the 2005 Andijan massacre in Uzbekistan to show that there has been almost no improvement in human rights since the collapse of the Soviet Union in Central Asia. The consolidation of power by President Vladimir Putin has resulted in a steady decline in the modest progress of previous years in Russia. In turn, this has led to little to no scrutiny by Russia when it comes to the situation of human rights in other CIS member states. The Commonwealth of Independent States continues to face serious challenges in meeting even basic international standards.[72]

Military[edit]

The members of the Council of Ministers of Defense meeting in Moscow in 2017

The CIS Charter establishes the Council of Ministers of Defence, which is vested with the task of coordinating military cooperation of the CIS member states who wish to participate.

In May 1992, six post-Soviet states belonging to the CIS signed the Collective Security Treaty (also referred to as the Tashkent Pact or Tashkent Treaty).[73] Three other post-Soviet states signed in 1993 and the treaty took effect in 1994 and lasted 5 years. When the treaty was subsequently renewed, three countries withdrew, leaving Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan as members.

In December 1993, the CIS Armed Forces Headquarters was abolished.[74] Instead, "the CIS Council of Defence Ministers created a CIS Military Cooperation Coordination Headquarters (MCCH) in Moscow, with 50 percent of the funding provided by Russia."[75] General Viktor Samsonov was appointed as Chief of Staff. The headquarters has now moved to 101000, Москва, Сверчков переулок, 3/2.

An important manifestation of integration processes in the area of military and defence collaboration of the CIS member states is the creation, in 1995, of the joint CIS Air Defense System. Over the years, the military personnel of the joint CIS Air Defense System grew twofold along the western, European border of the CIS, and by 1.5 times on its southern borders.[76]

In 2002, the six member states agreed to create the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) as a military alliance.[77]

In 2007, CSTO members agreed to create a CSTO peacekeeping force.[citation needed]

One of the CST's original objectives was to resolve conflicts between CIS members, however military conflicts such as Russia's open assistance and support to the two secessionist areas in Georgia, Russia seizing Crimea and support to secessionist areas in Ukraine, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan border issues have demonstrated how ineffective the CST and later the CSTO, is in this role.[78][79]

Economy[edit]

Corruption and bureaucracy are serious problems for trade in CIS countries.[80]

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed that CIS members take up a digitization agenda to modernize CIS economies.[81]

Economic data[82]

Country Population (2021) GDP (USD million) GDP growth
(2012)
GDP per capita Human Development
Index (2019)
2007 2012 2007 2012 2020
Armenia 2,790,974 9,204 10,551 2.1% 2,996 3,500 4,268 0.776
Azerbaijan 10,312,992 33,049 71,043 3.8% 3,829 7,500 4,214 0.756
Belarus 9,578,167 45,275 65,685 4.3% 4,656 6,940 6,411 0.823
Kazakhstan 19,196,465 104,849 196,642 5.2% 6,805 11,700 9,122 0.825
Kyrgyzstan 6,527,743 3,802 6,197 0.8% 711 1,100 1,174 0.697
Moldova 3,061,506 4,401 7,589 4.4% 1,200 2,100 4,551 0.750
Russia 145,102,755 1,294,381 2,022,000 3.4% 9,119 14,240 10,127 0.824
Tajikistan 9,750,064 3,695 7,263 2.1% 526 960 859 0.668
Uzbekistan 34,081,449 22,355 63,622 4.1% 831 2,137 1,686 0.720

Standards and rules[edit]

GOST standards were originally developed by the government of the Soviet Union as part of its national standardization strategy. After the disintegration of the USSR, the GOST standards acquired a new status of the regional standards. They are now administered by the Euro-Asian Council for Standardization, Metrology, and Certification (EASC), a standards organization chartered by the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Supranational integration initiatives, trade, and economic cooperation within CIS[edit]

On 24 September 1993 an Agreement on the Economic Union was signed by the heads of a number of CIS states. Its aim was the forming of conditions of stable development of economies of Contracting Parties to benefit from increases in living standards of their population.[83] This led to other specific agreements.

The terms of the CIS FTA agreements allow member states to enter into the FTA agreements with other countries, as well as to join/create custom unions.[84] Like other Commonwealth of Independent States agreements, this agreement does not regulate relations with third countries and allows differentiated integration (aka à la carte and multi-speed Europe).

1994 Framework for Bilateral Free Trade Agreements and Freedom of Transit[edit]

1994 agreement signatories

On 15 April 1994, at a meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Council of Heads of State in Moscow, the presidents of 12 countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine signed an Agreement on the Establishment of a Free Trade Area (Соглашение о создании зоны свободной торговли).[85] The Agreement entered into force on 30 December 1994 for those countries that had completed ratification. As of 2023, the Agreement is fully in force for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine, while Russia and Turkmenistan have notified the application of the Agreement on a provisional basis. According to the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, no one has ceased participation in the Agreement, made reservations or suspended the application.[86]

Bilateral FTAs concluded on the basis of CIS 1994 as a framework agreement.[87] According to the analytical material of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the 1994 version has not yet provided for multilateral free trade, but the conclusion of many bilateral agreements.[88] Under the 1994 version, the free trade regime enters into force when conditions are met, but, for example, the freedom of transit enters into force immediately between participants. According to the text, transit transportation should not be subject to unreasonable delays or restrictions, and the conditions of transit, including tariffs for transportation by any mode of transport and the provision of services, should not be worse than for domestic shippers, recipients, and owners of goods, as well as no worse than the conditions for any third country.[89]

1999 Protocol introducing a multilateral free trade among 10 countries[edit]

On 2 April 1999, in Moscow, the presidents of 11 countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine signed a Protocol on Amendments and Additions to the Agreement on the Establishment of a Free Trade Area of 15 April 1994[90] (Протокол о внесении изменений и дополнений в Соглашение о создании зоны свободной торговли от 15 апреля 1994 года). Turkmenistan did not participate. The Protocol entered into force on 24 November 1999 for those countries that had completed ratification. As of 2023, the Protocol has entered into force for all countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine, except Russia, which remains a signatory but has not notified entry into force or provisional application. According to the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, no one has ceased participation in the Protocol or suspended the application, while 1 reservation was made by Azerbaijan on non-application in relation to Armenia and 2 specific opinions were expressed by Georgia and Ukraine.[91]

According to the analytical material of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the 1999 Protocol replaced the existing bilateral free trade regime with a multilateral regime, eliminated all fees, as well as taxes and levies with equivalent effect, and quantitative restrictions on the import and (or) export of goods in mutual trade of the FTA participating states, established a procedure for dispute resolution, etc. [92] The 1999 version refers to the principles of the World Trade Organisation, envisages cooperation in economic policy, payments, customs cooperation, taxes, science, provides for a ratchet effect prohibiting the imposition of new tariffs and restrictions, provides for treatment no worse than that of any third country, and provides for the transit of goods on the basis of the principle of freedom of transit without discrimination.[88]

The 2011 CIS FTA Treaty envisages that the 1994 agreement and the 1999 protocol no longer apply among its 8 participants (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia, and Moldova), however, among the rest of the countries, they continue to be applied.

International Trade Centre says the 1994 Agreement on the Establishment of a Free Trade Area signed by 12 CIS countries still continues to be used by Azerbaijan and Georgia in trade with other CIS countries except with Russia and Turkmenistan. Reportedly it is also used bilaterally between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan pending Tajikistan’s ratification of Uzbekistan’s accession to the 2011 CIS Free Trade Area Treaty.[87]

2011 multilateral Free Trade Area Treaty among 9 countries[edit]

2011 treaty signatories and parties

In 2009, a new agreement was begun to create an FTA, the CIS Free Trade Agreement (CISFTA).[citation needed] In October 2011, the new free trade agreement was signed by eight of the eleven CIS prime ministers; Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine at a meeting in St. Petersburg. Initially, the treaty was only ratified by Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine,[93][94][95] However by the end of 2012, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Moldova had also completed ratification.[96][97] In December 2013, Uzbekistan, signed and then ratified the treaty,[98][99] while the remaining two signatories, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan later both ratified the treaty in January 2014 and December 2015 respectively.[100][101] Azerbaijan is the only full CIS member state not to participate in the free trade area.

The free trade agreement eliminates export and import duties on several goods but also contains a number of exemptions that will ultimately be phased out.[citation needed] An agreement was also signed on the basic principles of currency regulation and currency controls in the CIS at the same October 2011 meeting.[citation needed]

2023 Agreement on Free Trade in Services among 7 countries[edit]

On 8 June 2023 in Sochi Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan signed an Agreement on Free Trade in Services, Establishment, Operations, and Investment. [102]

Other activities[edit]

Election monitoring[edit]

The CIS-Election Monitoring Organisation (Russian: Миссия наблюдателей от СНГ на выборах) is an election monitoring body that was formed in October 2002, following a Commonwealth of Independent States heads of states meeting which adopted the Convention on the Standards of Democratic Elections, Electoral Rights, and Freedoms in the Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The CIS-EMO has been sending election observers to member countries of the CIS since this time.[citation needed]

Controversies

The election monitoring body has approved many elections which have been heavily criticised by independent observers.[103]

  • The democratic nature of the final round of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election which followed the Orange Revolution and brought into power the former opposition, was questioned by the CIS while the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) found no significant problems. This was the first time that the CIS observation teams challenged the validity of an election, saying that it should be considered illegitimate. On 15 March 2005, the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency quoted Dmytro Svystkov (a spokesman of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry) that Ukraine had suspended its participation in the CIS election monitoring organization.[citation needed]
  • The CIS praised the Uzbekistan parliamentary elections, 2005 as "legitimate, free and transparent" while the OSCE had referred to the Uzbek elections as having fallen "significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections".[104][105]
  • Moldovan authorities refused to invite CIS observers in the 2005 Moldovan parliamentary elections, an action Russia criticised. Many dozens of such observers from Belarus and Russia were stopped from reaching Moldova.[106]
  • CIS observers monitored the Tajikistan parliamentary elections, in 2005 and in the end declared them "legal, free and transparent." The same elections were pronounced by the OSCE to have failed international standards for democratic elections.[citation needed]
  • Soon after CIS observers hailed the Kyrgyz parliamentary elections of 2005 as "well-organized, free, and fair", as large-scale and often violent demonstrations broke out throughout the country protesting what the opposition called a rigged parliamentary election. In contrast, the OSCE reported that the elections fell short of international standards in many areas.[107]
  • International observers of the Interparliamentary Assembly stated the 2010 local elections in Ukraine were organised well.[108] While the Council of Europe uncovered a number of problems in relation to a new electorate law approved just prior to the elections[108] and the Obama administration criticised the conduct of the elections, saying they "did not meet standards for openness and fairness".[109][110]

Russian language status[edit]

Russia has urged that the Russian language receive official status in all of the CIS member states. So far Russian is an official language in only four states: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Russian is also considered an official language in the region of Transnistria and the autonomous region of Gagauzia in Moldova. After the Ukrainian 2010 election, President Yanukovych stated "Ukraine will continue to promote the Ukrainian language as its only state language."[111]

Sports events[edit]

At the time of the Soviet Union's dissolution in December 1991, its sports teams had been invited to or qualified for various 1992 sports events. A joint CIS team took its place in some of these. The "Unified Team" competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics and 1992 Summer Olympics, and a CIS association football team competed in UEFA Euro 1992. A CIS bandy team played some friendlies in January 1992 and made its last appearance at the 1992 Russian Government Cup, where it also played against the new Russia national bandy team. The Soviet Union bandy championship for 1991–1992 was rebranded as a CIS championship, this lasted just one year before it became Russian bandy.

In 2017, a festival for national sports and games, known as the Festival of National Sports and Games of the Commonwealth of Independent States (Russian: Фестиваль национальных видов спорта и игр государств — участников Содружества Независимых Государств) was held in Ulyanovsk. The main sports were sambo, tug of war, mas-wrestling, gorodki, belt wrestling, lapta, bandy (rink), kettlebell lifting, chess and archery. A few demonstration sports were also a part of the programme.[112]

In 2021 the first CIS games took place in Kazan with 9 nations and 2,000 athletes. The second games took place in 2023 in Belarus.

Cultural events[edit]

The CIS has also been a relevant forum to support cultural relations between former Soviet republics. In 2006, the Council of the Heads of Governments of the CIS launched the Intergovernmental Foundation for Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Cooperation (IFESCCO).[113] IFESSCO has substantially relied on Russia's financial support since its creation and supported several multilateral cultural events, including the ‘CIS Capital of Culture’ initiative.[114] In 2017, the Armenian city of Goris was declared the CIS Cultural Capital of the year, in 2022 it was Karakol.

Life expectancy[edit]

Life expectancy at birth in the countries of CIS in 2021, according to the World Bank Group.[115][116][117]

Countries 2021 Historical data COVID-19 impact
All Male Female Sex gap 2000 2000
→2014
2014 2014
→2019
2019 2019
→2020
2020 2020
→2021
2021 2019
→2021
2014
→2021
Belarus 72.37 67.30 77.70 10.40 68.91 4.06 72.97 1.26 74.23 −1.77 72.46 −0.09 72.37 −1.86 −0.60
Armenia 72.04 66.55 77.35 10.80 70.62 3.43 74.06 1.38 75.44 −3.27 72.17 −0.13 72.04 −3.40 −2.02
Kyrgyzstan 71.90 67.90 76.10 8.20 68.56 1.84 70.40 1.20 71.60 0.20 71.80 0.10 71.90 0.30 1.50
Tajikistan 71.59 69.57 73.73 4.17 63.26 5.81 69.07 1.80 70.87 −2.87 67.99 3.60 71.59 0.73 2.52
Uzbekistan 70.86 68.33 73.39 5.06 65.72 4.51 70.23 1.11 71.34 −1.01 70.33 0.53 70.86 −0.48 0.63
Kazakhstan 70.23 66.33 74.03 7.70 65.45 5.99 71.44 1.74 73.18 −1.81 71.37 −1.14 70.23 −2.95 −1.21
Azerbaijan 69.37 65.65 73.29 7.64 64.89 6.22 71.12 1.99 73.10 −6.23 66.87 2.50 69.37 −3.74 −1.75
Russia 69.36 64.21 74.77 10.56 65.48 5.26 70.74 2.34 73.08 −1.75 71.34 −1.98 69.36 −3.72 −1.38
Turkmenistan 69.26 65.86 72.66 6.80 65.03 3.59 68.61 0.39 69.00 −0.31 68.69 0.58 69.26 0.26 0.65
Moldova 68.85 64.44 73.55 9.10 66.42 2.61 69.03 1.90 70.94 −0.77 70.17 −1.32 68.85 −2.09 −0.19

Post-Soviet organisations and initiatives outside CIS framework[edit]

GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic DevelopmentGeorgia (country)AzerbaijanUkraineMoldovaTajikistanTurkmenistanCollective Security Treaty OrganizationEurasian Economic UnionUzbekistanKyrgyzstanKazakhstanArmeniaUnion StateBelarusRussiaCommonwealth of Independent StatesCommonwealth of Independent States Free Trade AreaBaltic AssemblyLithuaniaLatviaEstoniaCommunity for Democracy and Rights of NationsTransnistriaAbkhaziaSouth Ossetia
A clickable Euler diagram showing the relationships among various supranational organisations in the territory of the former Soviet Unionvde

EurAsEc and EAEU[edit]

Common Economic Space[edit]

After a discussion about the creation of a common economic space between the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, agreement in principle about the creation of this space was announced after a meeting in the Moscow suburb of Novo-Ogarevo on 23 February 2003. The Common Economic Space would involve a supranational commission on trade and tariffs that would be based in Kyiv, would initially be headed by a representative of Kazakhstan, and would not be subordinate to the governments of the four nations. The ultimate goal would be a regional organization that would be open for other countries to join as well, and could eventually lead even to a single currency.[citation needed]

On 22 May 2003, the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) voted 266 votes in favour and 51 against the joint economic space. However, most believe that Viktor Yushchenko's victory in the Ukrainian presidential election of 2004 was a significant blow against the project: Yushchenko had shown renewed interest in Ukrainian membership in the European Union and such membership would be incompatible with the envisioned common economic space.[citation needed] Yushchenko's successor Viktor Yanukovych stated on 27 April 2010 "Ukraine's entry into the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan is not possible today, since the economic principles and the laws of the WTO do not allow it, we develop our policy following WTO principles".[119] Ukraine has been a WTO member since 2008.[119]

A Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia was thus created in 2010,[120] A single market had been envisioned for 2012,[citation needed] but instead the customs union was renamed as the Eurasian Customs Union and expanded to include Armenia and Kyrgyzstan in 2015.

Union State of Russia and Belarus[edit]

Organisation of Central Asian Cooperation[edit]

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan formed the OCAC in 1991 as Central Asian Commonwealth (CAC).[citation needed] The organisation continued in 1994 as the Central Asian Economic Union (CAEU), in which Tajikistan and Turkmenistan did not participate. In 1998 it became the Central Asian Economic Cooperation (CAEC), which marked the return of Tajikistan. On 28 February 2002, it was renamed to its current name. Russia joined on 28 May 2004.[121] On 7 October 2005, it was decided between the member states that Uzbekistan will join[citation needed] the Eurasian Economic Community and that the organisations will merge.[122] The organisations joined on 25 January 2006. It is not clear what will happen to the status of current CACO observers that are not observers to EurAsEC (Georgia and Turkey).

Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations[edit]

The post-Soviet disputed states of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria are all members of the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations which aims to forge closer integration among the members.

GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Russian: Содружество Независимых Государств, СНГ, romanizedSodruzhestvo Nezavisimykh Gosudarstv, SNG

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  120. ^ "Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus plan on common economic space". Rbcnews.com. Archived from the original on 1 April 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  121. ^ "Central Asian Cooperation Organisation". Archived from the original on 23 February 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  122. ^ "Collective Security: A Timeline". Centralasia.foreignpolicyblogs.com. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2013.

Journals[edit]

  1. ^ "Russian Federation" (PDF). Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Eurasian economic integration: figures and facts" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.

External links[edit]