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Commonwealth of Independent States

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The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (in Russian: Содружество Независимых Государств (СНГ) - Sodruzhestvo Nezavisimykh Gosudarstv) is a confederation or alliance consisting of 12 of the 15 states of the former Soviet Union, the exceptions being the three Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Its creation signaled the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Flag of the CIS
Flag of the CIS


Map of the CIS. The CIS encompasses most of the territory of the former Soviet Union.
Map of the CIS. The CIS encompasses most of the territory of the former Soviet Union.

Initiating the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the fall of 1991 and ignoring the referendum results confirming constitutional / institutional unity of the USSR (in fact, without disclosing the referendum results to citizens of the USSR), the leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine met on December 8 in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha Natural Reserve, about 50 km (30 mi) north of Brest in Belarus, and signed an agreement establishing the CIS. At the same time they announced that the new confederation would be open to all republics of the former Soviet Union, as well as other nations sharing the same goals.

Mikhail Gorbachev described this as an "illegal and dangerous" constitutional coup, but it soon became clear that the development could not be stopped: On December 21, 1991, the leaders of 11 of the 15 Soviet Socialist Republics met in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, and signed the charter, thus ratifying the initial CIS treaty de facto. The three Baltic republics — Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia — refused to join, as did Georgia: all four countries took the view that they had been illegally incorporated into the USSR in the first place. The charter stated that all the members were independent states and thereby effectively abolished the USSR.

The 11 original member states were Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. In December 1993, Georgia also joined the CIS in somewhat controversial circumstances, following a civil war in which Russian troops intervened on the side of the Shevardnadze government.

Role and Organization

The CIS is headquartered in Minsk, Belarus. The chairman of the CIS is known as the executive secretary. All of the CIS'Vladimir_Rushailo" title ="Vladimir Rushailo">Vladimir Rushailo.

Historically, the CIS could be viewed a successor entity to the Soviet Union, insofar as one of its original intents was to provide a framework for the disassembly of that state. However, the CIS is emphatically not a state unto itself, and is more directly comparably to the European Community than to its "predecessor". However, although the CIS has few supranational powers, it is more than a purely symbolic organization, possessing coordinating powers in the realm of trade, finance, lawmaking and security. The most significant issue for the CIS is the establishment of a full-fledged free trade zone / economic union between the member states, to be launched in 2005. It has also promoted cooperation on democratisation and cross-border crime prevention.

During the 1992 Olympic Games (in Albertville and Barcelona), athletes from the CIS member states competed as the Unified Team for the last time. In other sports events in that year, such as the European Championships in football, athletes took part as representatives of the CIS. Since then, the member states have competed under their national banners.

Moves for further integration

Russian Language

Russia has been urging for the Russian language to receive official status in all 12 of the CIS member states. So far Russian is an official language in four of these states: Russia itself, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Russian is also considered an official language in the separatist regions of Abkhazia and Transnistria, as well as the semi-autonomous region of Gagauzia in Moldova.

Viktor Yanukovich, the Moscow-supported presidential candidate in the controversial Ukrainian presidential election, 2004, has likewise indicated an intention to make Russian an official second language of Ukraine.

Joint Economic Space

There has been discussion about the creation of a "joint economic space" between the 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 February 23, 2003.

The Joint Economic Space would involve a supranational commission on trade and tariffs that would be based in Kiev, would be initially 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.

On 22 May 2003 The Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) voted with 266 votes in favour and 51 against in favour of the joint economic space. However many consider that if Viktor Yushchenko becomes president of Ukraine, then that would be a significant blow against the project.

Related Articles

External links

Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Flag of CIS
Armenia | Azerbaijan | Belarus | Georgia | Kazakhstan | Kyrgyzstan | Moldova | Russia | Tajikistan | Turkmenistan | Ukraine | Uzbekistan

bg:Общност на независимите държави cy:Cymanwlad y Gwladwriaethau Annibynnol de:Gemeinschaft unabhängiger Staaten et:SRÜ eo:Komunumo de Sendependaj Ŝtatoj fr:Communauté des États indépendants it:Comunità degli Stati Indipendenti lv:Neatkarīgo Valstu Savienība lt:Nepriklausomų Valstybių Sandrauga nl:Gemenebest van Onafhankelijke Staten no:Samveldet av Uavhengige Stater ja:独立国家共同体 pl:Wspólnota Niepodległych Państw ro:Comunitatea Statelor Independente ru:Содружество независимых государств sl:Skupnost neodvisnih držav fi:Itsenäisten valtioiden yhteisö zh-cn:独立国家联合体

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