MOSCOW, April 9. /TASS/. Cooperation of the CIS member countries in strengthening security and war on terror develops successfully and remains an absolute priority for the Commonwealth of Independent States, CIS Executive Secretary Sergei Lebedev told TASS on Monday.
"I would like to emphasize that the strengthening of stability and security has been and remains an absolute priority for the Commonwealth member countries," said Lebedev, who turned 70 on Monday. "A program of cooperation of the CIS member countries in fight against terrorism and other manifestations of extremism for 2017-2019 was mapped out and is being implemented," said the executive secretary of an alliance of post-Soviet states.
"The main efforts are concentrated on joint preventive activities and special operations, transfer of best practices, training of personnel," Lebedev added.
Lebedev emphasized the importance of the competent agencies’ "actively engaging the possibilities of the civic society, business, mass media and traditional religious confessions".
"The joint exercise Combat Commonwealth-2017, held by the Council of the CIS Defense Ministers, and the anti-terrorist exercise Dushanbe-Antiterror-2017, held by the CIS Antiterrorist Center, came as a major contribution to the strengthening of anti-terrorist security," the executive secretary said.
An expansion of the Commonwealth of Independent States is theoretically possible, but the issue is not on the agenda at the moment, he added.
"Of course, this is possible theoretically, on condition that all CIS member countries agree," Lebedev said in reply to the question whether the number of the CIS countries could grow due to the return of Georgia or to the joining of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. "But in practice, the issue is not on the agenda today," said Lebedev who turned 70 on Monday.
He said the CIS sees no threat for itself in the development of cooperation between the countries in certain regions of the Commonwealth. "Integration is a comprehensive and multi-vector process. The world practice shows that many countries participate not in one, but let us say in two or even several zones of free trade," he noted in reply to the question about the attitude in the Commonwealth to the meeting in Astana on March 15 of the Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek presidents as well as a representative from Turkmenistan.
He stressed that the Commonwealth offers a unique platform for a permanent and sincere dialogue at the summit level, which helps to promptly solve thorny issues. "The presidents of the CIS countries have repeatedly confirmed that the organization is in demand and that it is necessary to not only preserve it, but to develop and update it further," he added.