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Commonwealth of Independent States

COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was established on December 8, 1991, in the Belovezh Accords, which also brought an end to the Soviet Union. These accords were signed by leaders from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and on December 21, 1991, in the Almaty Delcaration and Proctocol to these accords, eight additional states (Moldavia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkemenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan) confirmed their intention to join the CIS and accept the demise of the Soviet state. Georgia joined the CIS in December 1993, bringing total membership to twelve states (the Baltic republics of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia never joined). The organization had several goals, including coordination of members' foreign and security policies, development of a common economic space, fostering human rights and inter-ethnic concord, maintenance of the military assets of the former USSR, creation of shared transportation and communications networks, environmental security, regulation of migration policy, and efforts to combat organized crime. The CIS had a variety of institutions through which it attempted to accomplish these goals: Council of Heads of State, Council of Heads of Government, Council of Foreign Ministers, Council of Defense Ministers, an inter-parliamentary assembly, Executive Committee, Anti-Terrorism Task Force, and the Interstate Economic Committee of the Economic Union.

Although in a sense the CIS was designed to replace the Soviet Union, it was not and is not a separate state or country. Rather, the CIS is an international organization designed to promote cooperation among its members in a variety of fields. Its headquarters are in Minsk, Belarus. Over the years, its members have signed dozens of treaties and agreements, and some hoped that it would ultimately promote the dynamic development of ties among the newly independent post-Soviet states. By the late 1990s, however, the CIS lost most of its momentum and was victimized by internal rifts, becoming, according to some observers, largely irrelevant and powerless.

From its beginning, the CIS had two main purposes. The first was to promote what was called a "civilized divorce" among the former Soviet states. Many feared the breakup of the Soviet Union would lead to political and economic chaos, if not outright conflict over borders. The earliest agreements of the CIS, which provided for recognition of borders, protection of ethnic minorities, maintenance of a unified military command, economic cooperation, and periodic meetings of state leaders, arguably helped to maintain some semblance of order in the region, although one should note that the region did suffer some serious conflicts (e.g., war between Armenia and Azerbaijan and civil conflicts in Tajikistan, Moldova, and Georgia).

The second purpose of the CIS was to promote integration among the newly independent states. On this score, the CIS had not succeeded. The main reason is that while all parties had a common interest in peacefully dismantling the old order, there has been no consensus among these states as to what (if anything) should replace the Soviet state. Moreover, the need to develop national political and economic systems took precedence in many states, dampening enthusiasm for any project of reintegration. CIS members have also been free to sign or not sign agreements as they see fit, creating a hodgepodge of treaties and obligations among CIS states.

One of the clearest failures of the CIS has been on the economic front. Although the member states pledged cooperation, things began to break down early on. By 1993, the ruble zone collapsed, with each state issuing its own currency. In 1993 and 1994, eleven CIS states ratified a Treaty on an Economic Union (Ukraine joined as an associate member). A free-trade zone was proposed in 1994, but by 2002 it still had not yet been fully established. In 1996 four states (Russia, Belarus, Krygyzstan, Kazakhstan) created a Customs Union, but others refused to join. All these efforts were designed to increase trade, but, due to a number of factors, trade among CIS countries has lagged behind targeted figures. More broadly speaking, economic cooperation has suffered because states had adopted economic reforms and programs with little regard for the CIS and have put more emphasis on redirecting their trade to neighboring European or Asian states.

Cooperation in military matters fared little better. The 1992 Tashkent Treaty on Collective Security was ratified by a mere six states. While CIS peacekeeping troops were deployed to Tajikistan and Abkhazia (a region of Georgia), critics viewed these efforts as Russian attempts to maintain a sphere of influence in these states. As a "Monroeski Doctrine" took hold in Moscow, which asserted special rights for Russia on post-Soviet territory, and Russia used its control over energy pipelines to put pressure on other states, there was a backlash by several states against Russia, which weakened the CIS. After September 11, 2001, the CIS created bodies to help combat terrorism, and some hoped that this might bring new life to the organization.

See also: belovezh accords; ruble zone

bibliography

Heenan, Patrick, and Lamontagne, Monique, eds. (1999). The CIS Handbook. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn.

Olcott, Martha Brill; Aslund, Anders; and Garnett, Sherman. (1999). Getting It Wrong: Regional Cooperation and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Sakwa, Richard, and Webber, Mark. (1999). "The Commonwealth of Independent States, 19911998: Stagnation and Survival." Europe-Asia Studies 51:379415.

Paul J. Kubicek

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Commonwealth of Independent States

Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), community of independent nations established by a treaty signed at Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 8, 1991, by the heads of state of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Between Dec. 8 and Dec. 21, the three original signatories were joined by Armenia, Azerbaijan (its parliament, however, rejected ratifying its membership until 1993), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. When Georgia joined in 1993 all of the former republics of the USSR except the Baltic states had become members of the CIS. Georgia withdrew in 2008 (finalized 2009) following its conflict with Russia over South Ossetia. The headquarters of the CIS are in Minsk.

The organization was conceived as the successor to the USSR in its role of coordinating the foreign and economic policies of its member nations. The treaty recognized current borders and each republic's independence, sovereignty, and equality, and established a free-market ruble zone embracing the republics' interdependent economies and a joint defense force for participating republics. Strategic nuclear weapons, in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine, were to be under the joint control of those republics, with day-to-day authority in the hands of the Russian president and defense minister; Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, however, no longer possess such weapons. The CIS at first convened only a council of the heads of state of its members, but in 1992 it convened a council of heads of government and a council of foreign ministers.

The republics' level of receptivity to integration with Russia has varied. All CIS nations now have their own currency, and most members have had occasion to criticize Russia for slow implementation of CIS agreements. Ukraine (which had a prolonged disagreement with Russia over the disposition of the Black Sea and remained wary of Russia, which ultimately seized Crimea and supported an E Ukrainian rebellion), Turkmenistan (whose large gas reserves free it from dependence on Russia), Azerbaijan (whose oil reserves also allow for independence from Russia), and Moldova (which faced an insurgency in the Russian-dominated Trans-Dniester region) have been relatively inactive in the alliance, and in 2005 Turkmenistan became an associate member. Armenia (surrounded by the Muslim nations of Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkey), Georgia (with separatist movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia), Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan (vulnerable because of its limited natural resources) accepted Russia's protection under a joint defense system and Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan also signed the Collective Security Treaty, but Azerbaijan and Georgia later withdrew from the defense agreement. In 2002 the treaty adherents agreed to establish the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which superseded the CIS as a forum for military cooperation in 2005. Uzbekistan, which had suspended its security treaty membership in 1998, joined the CSTO in 2006. Uzbekistan and Belarus did not join the other CSTO nations in establishing (2009) the CSTO's rapid reaction force, and in 2012 Uzbekistan suspended its membership in the CSTO.

Because the CIS has remained essentially a regional forum, progress toward the integration of its member nations has tended to take place outside the organization. In 1996, Belarus signed a treaty with Russia to coordinate their defense and foreign policy apparatus and to eliminate trade restrictions and eventually unite their currencies. Individual sovereignty is to be maintained, but they created supranational bodies to effect these changes. The two nations have since signed several follow-up agreements, but actual progress toward integration has been slow. They, Kazakhstan (which has a large Russian community), and Kyrgyzstan additionally agreed to pursue economic integration without customs restrictions. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan later joined the economic grouping, which became the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) in 2001, but Uzbekistan suspended its membership in 2008. In 2003, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine agreed to form a Single Economic Space; the treaty was ratified the following year, but subsequent tensions between Russia and Ukraine led the latter not to participate in the agreement (2009) led to a customs union in 2010 and a common economic space in 2012. In 2014 Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia agreed to increase economic integration by establishing (2015) the Eurasian Economic Union, and Armenia and Kyrgyzstan subsequently joined. In 2011, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine signed a free-trade pact; Uzbekistan joined the free-trade zone in 2013.

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"Commonwealth of Independent States." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Commonwealth of Independent States

Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Alliance of 12 of the former republics of the Soviet Union (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan). The CIS formed in 1991. The Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) did not join. In 1993 all members, except Ukraine, signed a treaty of economic union, creating a free-trade zone. Russia is the dominant power, with overall responsibility for defence and peacekeeping. It is also the main provider of oil and natural gas.

http://www.cisstat.com/eng/cis.htm

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