An informal summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on Tuesday brought together the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The presidents discussed ways to stop drug trafficking, the pullout of military from Afghanistan, and also agreed to develop economic cooperation. Today, Kazakhstan hosts a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council - the governing body of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. One of the main issues on the agenda is the admission of new members.
Not all leaders of the CSTO member states visited the summit, the Kommersant daily writes. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko failed to arrive. The summit was marked by a closed nature untypical even for this kind of events, the newspaper stresses.
Unveiling the session, the Russian president expressed concern over the pullout of NATO troops from Afghanistan, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily stresses. Extremists may get more active in the region and drug trafficking may intensify. Vladimir Putin voiced behind closed doors Russia’s offers in that sphere. As it has become known, one of the main Russian initiatives is to create a state corporation for the development of Central Asia. The aim of this move is rather specific. According to the chairman of the State Antidrug Committee, director of the Federal Drug Control Service Viktor Ivanov, the corporation will help to divert the population of close to Afghanistan CIS states from the participation in illegal drug trade.
Already after the summit, CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha reported that the presidents had discussed in detail strengthening of the state border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, as well as considered the construction of a new railway from Russia to Tajikistan via Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the Izvestia newspaper writes. Bordyuzha also told the newspaper that in the future that railway could reach Iran. Besides, it will have a military-strategic importance.
“Restoration of the Soviet space proceeds with difficulties,” the Nezavisimaya Gazeta entitled its article. Today, a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council - the governing body of the Customs Union and the Common Economic space takes place in Kazakhstan, it writes. One of the main issues on the agenda is the admission of new members.
Kyrgyzstan has voiced its bid to become a full participant of the Customs Union. Ukraine has presented a memorandum of joining as an observer. However, Ukrainian officials say that possibly already in July Ukraine will fully join the protocol on the setting up of the Customs Union. Experts dub Ukraine’s behavior as political overtures to Russia that wants to restore the Soviet economic space. The aim of this policy is to get preferences from Gazprom. The presence of Kyrgyzstan in the Customs Union may entail problems, experts believe.
“The lack of external borders and a destabilizing internal situation” may prevent Kyrgyzstan’s entry into the Customs Union, the director of the Information and Communication Processes Management Centre at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Vladimir Silkin, said. “And the most important thing is that there are so-called wild markets on the territory of the country, which may harm integration processes,” he added.
“On the one side, Kyrgyzstan is sitting on a tinderbox and its entry into the Customs Union is undesirable. Apart from a possible infiltration of Chinese products across the Kyrgyz border, there are other threats. The situation in the Fergana Valley remains tense, weak borders with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan make Kyrgyzstan a potential channel of drug supplies to Russia,” senior analyst from the Solid company, Artur Akhmetov, says. “On the other side, Russia is the main trade partner of Kyrgyzstan. And the removal of customs borders will help Russia to finally get a foothold in this status. Otherwise, China will step in to take this place,” he said.
“Negative moments of Kyrgyzstan’s entry into the Customs Union are more noticeable than positive ones,” the head of the audit department of the Uralsky Soyuz group, Alexander Mironov, believes. “Rates of excise duty and Value Added Tax are much lower in Kyrgyzstan than in the Russian Federation,” he said. Russia’s support for the economies of its neighbors practically at its own expense will become the result of integration.