Ashgabat, 7 December 2012 (nCa) — We started this series with sharp focus on Putin, the man who is quite likely to stay in Kremlin up to 2024.
Before looking at the speech of Putin, let’s turn briefly to the summit declaration, officially titled Ashgabat Declaration.
The declaration was drafted at the initiative of the president of Turkmenistan and its draft was finalized during the meeting of the CIS foreign ministers, just a day before the summit.
A paragraph of paramount importance in the declaration is:
“New tendencies of significant strengthening of influence of economic forces on development of the international relations are observed. In this regard, we consider it a priority to implement the potential of the economic cooperation in the CIS in the integrated solution of the social, economic and other issues. The most promising areas for the development of cooperation in this regard may include the establishment of international transport and communication corridors, development of energy, science and technology partnerships, and stimulation of investment activity.”
In plain language, this paragraph says that the economic stress dictates international relations and CIS countries must cooperate for the economic and social security.
This paragraph calls for creation of international transportation and communication corridors, energy, science and technology partnership and boosting of investment activity.
Related to this is the document signed during the summit for cooperation in creation of an integrated currency market in the CIS space.
What is the significance?
The integrated currency market means that the CIS states should encourage currency swap in mutual trading. The use of local currency would lead to decreased dependence on Dollar and Euro.
There would certainly be many hurdles such as insufficient solvency and lopsided trade balance between certain countries but the idea is powerful. With some cooperation form the financially better off countries in the CIS, this can be done in managed segments.
The total trade turnover between the CIS countries in 2011 was US $ 281 billion. How big is this? —– For comparison, let’s recall that the biggest mutual trade turnover in the world is between the EU and USA which was US $ 211 billion in 2011. It means that the trade turnover between the CIS countries is a big chunk of the world trade.
If all of this trade takes place in the local currencies, it will put into question the legitimacy of dollar as the universal currency; that much less foreign exchange will be routed through New York.
It is also important to remember that Russia and China area already in currency swap arrangement.
The currency swap in the CIS space would be especially beneficial for weaker CIS economies that don’t have strong reserves of dollar or Euro.
The declaration was primarily drafted by Turkmenistan and as such it stays with economic, social and cultural aspects of cooperation. However, the documents signed after the summit show that there is rising concern with security issues.
On the other hand, the SCO is raising the economic side of partnership, keeping the security issues at a level that should be acceptable to all.
With this change in motion, presumably by mutual consent of the Russian and Chinese leadership, both CIS and SCO will come close to each other in a few years. They would resemble each other in many ways, leading to close interaction on economic issues.
With this in mind, let’s return to Putin and his speech at the summit.
In his speech Putin came out as a leader with tangible promises, promises that are attractive to the CIS states.
He urged everyone to join the CIS free-trade zone, the customs union and the common economic space. He welcomed the decision of Uzbekistan to join the free-trade zone.
He also hailed the Ukrainian idea for creation of agreement on free trade in services.
Putin repeated his call to ‘turn east’ in trade relations, mentioning that while North America and Western Europe were still not far from the brink, the Asia-Pacific region was thriving mightily.
He promised to continue advocating the promotion of interests of the CIS countries at the international platforms such as G20 and G8. Russia will host G20 in 2013 and G8 in 2014.
In short, Putin asserted his right to leadership.
If we assume that Russia and the USA are two evils, Russia is the lesser evil. While Putin has a clear eyed view of the world situation, Obama has outsourced his foreign policy and defence to the Republicans simply because his intellect is more suited to domestic affairs.
Susan Rice is as much Republican as Hillary Clinton. We are talking here of ideological roots, not part tickets.
In the prevailing circumstances, it would be better for the CIS to go along with Putin because many of the CIS states don’t have any means of getting out of financial crisis if they happen to fall into it.
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Here is the complete text of the speech of Putin at the summit:
Speech – President of Russia Vladimir Putin
Mr Berdymuhamedov, Let me start by saying that it’s been a long time since I last visited [Ashgabat], and I must say that the city makes a very pleasing impression. It is developing rapidly and according to a common plan, judging by what we have seen so far. The city is looking very beautiful, and I congratulate you on this, for developing the country’s capital city is in itself a good project.
Turning to our work together, I note that this is the first time Turkmenistan has held the CIS presidency, and it is certainly doing a very effective and responsible job, as we can see from the substantive programme on our agenda today, including the declaration on further all-round cooperation in the CIS, drafted at the President of Turkmenistan’s initiative. This document has our full support.
I think that economic cooperation within the CIS continues to be the most important part of our work. It is especially relevant today, as the global economic crisis continues and in some cases is even growing deeper. The agreement on a free-trade zone within the CIS gives us new possibilities for fighting the crisis and building up our business ties.
Most of the participating countries have not only signed but already ratified the agreement. We hope that those countries that have yet to make the final decision will do so soon, and those countries that have not yet ratified the agreement will do so by the end of this year. Only two countries have not done so yet – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as I recall. I am in touch with my colleagues on this matter and as far as I understand it is just a technical issue and work is proceeding as normal.
We wholeheartedly welcome Uzbekistan’s desire to join the CIS free-trade zone. We will help in every way we can, and I appeal to my colleagues to take this same position and support Uzbekistan.
We welcome the start of work on drafting an agreement on free trade in services. This is our Ukrainian colleagues’ initiative. I think that carrying out these proposals will bring real benefits for all of the participating countries and will give us new opportunities to develop effective economic ties.
We will take another step to strengthen our economic ties today by signing the agreement on cooperation in organising an integrated currency market in the CIS. This agreement’s practical implementation will help us to make use of our national currencies in carrying out our commercial plans, help our countries’ banks to make their activities more effective, and will certainly contribute to macroeconomic stability in the region.
This step will also be of undoubted help in deepening our integration efforts. I am referring primarily to the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. We welcome all countries that wish and are ready to join these integration organisations. Let me stress this: all countries that wish and are ready to join. This is a reciprocal process, but it is something that we most certainly welcome.
I have already informed you on the results of the APEC summit in Vladivostok. The Asia-Pacific region is the most promising part of the world. While North America and Western Europe still face problems in their economies, the Asia-Pacific region continues to grow, and we all realise that to a large extent this is where the global economic future lies.
I therefore want to say once more that we did our best to highlight all of the advantages of our integration efforts at the APEC summit, and I can tell you that we received a very positive response from our partners in the Asia-Pacific region.
Russia will host two big international events over the coming period: the G20 summit next year and the G8 summit in 2014. I can assure you that we will take into account all of the interests that I hope you will present in good time. I hope to see some of the participants in today’s meeting at these events. I think this will be important in advancing our common interests.
Just as important is to develop our coordination on topical issues with the OSCE. Regrettably, the state of affairs in the OSCE does not inspire optimism. It is high time the organisation stops serving the particular countries’ interests and concentrates instead on an agenda that can unite us. We hope that Ukraine will follow just this line when it takes over the OSCE presidency in 2013.
Telecommunications and computerisation were key issues on the CIS economic agenda last year. We have accomplished quite a lot in these areas, and almost all of the CIS countries are now in the process of developing electronic government.
I want to draw your attention to another high-tech project that could be of interest for all CIS countries, namely, Russia’s GLONASS satellite navigation system. Using this system’s potential offers big economic benefits by helping us to cut freight transport costs in all of the different transport systems and increase transport security. We hope very much that our colleagues in the CIS will take an interest in this project, and we see good prospects for developing similar systems in the CIS countries.
The CIS plans to declare next year the Year of Environmental Culture and Protection, and we fully support this initiative and will hold related events throughout the Russian Federation.
We are happy with the way our humanitarian ties are developing. Today, we will approve the Interstate Programme for the CIS Culture Capital. I think this is a good practice, the one we should continue.
Our military cooperation and cooperation between our law enforcement and border guards agencies are also very important of course. We place great importance on these cooperation areas and take the view that carrying out our plans in these directions will bolster the Commonwealth of Independent States’ status as an organisation.
Thank you for your attention.
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In the original text, Commonwealth of Independent States and Commonwealth are used interchangeably. In this translation we have used ‘CIS’ in both cases.
THE DECLARATION of the heads of state of the CIS on further development of comprehensive cooperation
We, the heads of CIS states,
Giving a positive assessment of the CIS, and noting its role in the construction of the new architecture of mutual relations between the CIS countries, addressing the key issues of regional and inter-regional development,
Expressing the desire to further develop mutually beneficial and multifaceted cooperation and capacity building of the CIS in solving the urgent problems of our time,
Recognizing the need to improve the effectiveness of the existing mechanisms of multilateral cooperation within the CIS, and also improving the organizational, legal and institutional framework of CIS,
Wishing to ensure economic progress and prosperity of the people of our countries,
Guided by the principles of democracy, humanism, and respect for human rights and freedoms, strengthening of the moral values, building trust and understanding between the people,
Reaffirming the adherence to cultural diversity, dialogue of cultures, recognizing the right of the people to free national and cultural development,
Expressing the commitment to the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and founding documents fo CIS, and also the universally recognized norms of international law,
Creation of CIS was due to the objective necessity to preserve the traditional humanitarian, economic and other links in the historical conditions associated with the formation of the new independent states, which, in turn, determined the viability of CIS as an authoritative regional organization.
Over the years the CIS has proved its relevance, serving as a political platform for the consideration and determination of international legal means of political, economic, humanitarian and other cooperation.
We express readiness to further strengthen the role of CIS in the formation of regional and inter-regional relations, the establishment of a viable and effective cooperation mechanism that meets the requirements of the modern times.
We acknowledge the efforts of the CIS in strengthening the overall security and stability, considering it as an important tool in prevention work, prevention and settlement of disputed situations, and we consider it necessary to build the capacity of CIS in the use of the means of preventive diplomacy and confidence building measures.
New tendencies of significant strengthening of influence of economic forces on development of the international relations are observed. In this regard, we consider it a priority to implement the potential of the economic cooperation in the CIS in the integrated solution of the social, economic and other issues. The most promising areas for the development of cooperation in this regard may include the establishment of international transport and communication corridors, development of energy, science and technology partnerships, and stimulation of investment activity.
We believe that one of the major factors contributing to the development of CIS is the strengthening of cooperation in the fields of culture, education, social rights and individual freedoms.
We underline that the organized crime, terrorism, illicit trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic substances pose serious threat to the safety of the CIS states, and declare the intention wage determined struggle against these phenomena.
We consider it expedient to continue to work on further improvement of CIS and its treaty basis, taking into account the world experience in management of international processes. We are firmly convinced of the need to continue developing relations in various fields and promote the strengthening of friendship and cooperation between the CIS states.
[Signed by all participants of CIS summit in Ashgabat on 5 December 2012. This declaration has been officially named Ashgabat Declaration]
To be continued …