"The CIS is dying of natural causes"
    Expert opinions on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  16 January 2023 - 17:22

    Samir Ibrahimov

    Moldova is currently “analyzing the need of staying in the CIS”, and does not see any processes within the cooperation that would interest the country, said the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic, Niku Popescu.

    Several hundred different documents have been signed within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and now the ministry of foreign affairs and other ministries are analyzing these, said Popescu to TV8. “In the near future, we will have a clearer understanding of what elements of these international agreements we still need, and those who have outlived themselves. We do not see any processes in the CIS that would be in the interests of Moldova. This organization has become the least relevant to us over time. The free trade zone does not work, access to our goods have problems since 2006 and there are trade restrictions in relation to our exports”.

    Popescu noted that “since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, representatives of Moldova do not participate in any meetings at the CIS level”. Speaking of relations with Russia, he said that they are maintained only at the level of embassies.

    Indeed, many people have probably repeatedly thought over the past 30 years: what is the point of this unifying format these days, what is it really doing for the former Soviet people?

    Initially, the CIS was created with an unclear purpose - whether as a step towards a new Union to replace the USSR, or as a soft version of the final decomposition of a single space into many entities.

    Georgia and Ukraine have left the CIS, and what has changed for them? Nothing. They continue to cooperate with other post-Soviet countries at the same level without any harm. What, then, is the point of remaining in this organization, which largely exists only on paper? I mean, isn’t it possible that the CIS has lost its meaning and value and exists by inertia?

    Let us also not forget that the CIS has never established a mechanism for resolving territorial conflicts or transparent borders between countries.

    Many call the creation of the CIS a civilized divorce of the Soviet republics, a way out of the historical impasse. They say that it was possible to prevent a bloody civil war through the transfer of Soviet inheritance on the Yugoslav model. But this is not so, it is enough to recall the bloody wars in the post-Soviet space in the early 1990s.

    Does this mean that if the CIS collapsed sometime in the second half of the 1990s, nothing would have changed radically? That is to say, the situation would not have been worse. What is the point of continuing to be a member of this organization? All the more, since its maintenance also requires an annual appropriation from the budget.

    Famous foreign analysts shared their opinion on this issue with Caliber.Az.

    Ambassador Giorgi Badridze, a leading expert of the Georgian Foundation for International and Strategic Studies notes that the CIS was created in 1991 as an alternative union, which, in the context of the collapse of the USSR, should have kept Russia in control of the former Union republics.

    “It literally outlined the sphere of Russian influence. For example, Georgia’s refusal to join the CIS has cost President Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s overthrow through an armed coup [supported by Moscow] and, later, his life.

    But if the history of the CIS began so dramatically [we should also mention, that it killed the USSR], then sometime later it turned out that the 'commonwealth' is not really filled with a special meaning - especially economic”, the expert said.

    Today, the backbone of the CIS is united in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which are real obstacles to economic and political development for its members, he notes.

    "In addition, the experience of Georgia, which left the commonwealth in 2008, shows that membership in the CIS is not necessary not only for close economic ties with its neighbours, but also with Russia itself: in recent years trade with it has been growing rapidly (which, by the way, is not very far-sighted on the part of the Georgian government). The same Tbilisi has experience showing that CIS membership does not guarantee that Russia will play by the rules: in 2002 (under President Shevardnadze) Russia unilaterally imposed a visa regime with Georgia, and in 2006 imposed a full-scale economic embargo on us.

    So, the CIS has long lost relevance and looks more like a living corpse. It rarely gives signs of life and the only thing that keeps its members from leaving is their unwillingness to irritate Moscow”, the Georgian diplomat believes.

    In turn, Vitaly Andrievsky, a history doctor and Director of the Institute of Effective Policy in Chisinau believes that the CIS is dying of natural causes.

    “I do not want to offend anyone, but all living things are falling off it. Some earlier, some later. Nothing is holding Moldova in this organization, but so far it is holding back the need to solve some problems, especially collective agreements, for example, about free trade. Yes, this treaty has not worked with Russia for a long time [Russia is violating it], but it still works with other countries. It is necessary to switch them to a bilateral basis. There are other agreements that have not yet outlived themselves.

    But in general, the CIS is already a relic of the past. It helped with a more-or-less peaceful and civilized divorce after the collapse of the USSR, but later ceased to play this role. In recent decades, there have been many armed conflicts and even wars between the CIS countries. And everyone saw that the CIS had no role, neither to prevent them nor to stop them. So far, Russia is clinging to the CIS because it plays the main violin, and Putin likes that. But the Putin era is coming to an end and with it, the history of the CIS ends”, Andrievsky believes.

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