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MOSCOW, September 9 (Itar-Tass) —— A top Russian diplomat agreed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) which unites former Soviet republics has developed in 20 years of its existence into a meeting club for national leaders, but said there is nothing bad in it.
“They say the Commonwealth has developed into a club for meetings and nothing else. Even if this were so what is bad in it? Mutual attraction remained,” Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said in an interview with the Rossiyskaya gazeta published on Friday.
“We have divorced, but did not part. That is the way to live, not to impede, but assist each other,” he added.
He admitted the CIS failed to achieve initially proclaimed goals. “At the first stage the talk was no more and no less about joint armed forces and a common foreign policy. However life quickly put everything in place. Overstated expectations did not come true which is only logical.”
Denisov rejected claims that Russia is working to compel CIS countries to join such integration institutions as the Customs Union and EurAsEC economic community.
“Only the perception of own interests can push that or another country to an integration association,” Denisov said. “It is an issue of sovereign political choice,” he added.
He also said Russia is against western attempts to make CIS countries choose between Russia and the European Union. “We are categorically against such a presentation and have never concealed it in talks with partners from the European Union,” he said.
Denisov said Russia plays a specific role in the Customs Union of which also Kazakhstan and Belarus are members, as well as in EurAsEC.
“If we take the aggregate economic potential of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus for a hundred percent, Russia will account for 89 percent, Kazakhstan – 7 and Belarus - 4. The disparity is clear. The Russian GDP is nearly 30 times bigger than that of Belarus. The problem should not be concealed,” he said, but added “it does not mean that Russia sustains someone.”
Naturally, Russia assists CIS economies through the EurAsEC anti-crisis fund. “For the help Russia gets the right to operate on that or another market,” Denisov said.