In the end of the 20th century, one of the most crucial events was the demise of socialist economic system and international relations based on it. The era of the rule of two superpowers was over and the world has come under the control of a single hyperpower, namely the United States. Although many countries with the so-called rising economies are in quest for multi-polarity, it is difficult to define the status of individual countries in this unipolar world.
CIS as a global player: the preconditions of its reinforcement
It’s complicated to define the position of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS or the Commonwealth), which was established on the grounds of the demised Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), as the participant of international relations, since all countries united in the Commonwealth (1) have different economic as well as political potential. Furthermore, they pursue different political and economic objectives and priorities in the current globalised world.
In spite of failed attempts to economic and political integration in the area of the former Soviet Union, there are still notions of the establishment of a powerful and influential commonwealth in the case that these countries unite their tremendous potential (2) and utilise it as much as possible (3). Integration in the territory of the CIS could be facilitated also by the rich experience of coexistence and mutual economic dependence of the countries in the region which are the consequence of common history within the USSR.
The reinforcement of the CIS as a whole or multi-speed integration
The representatives of the Supreme Soviets of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, the three Slavic countries, met in the Białowieża Forest in Belarusian territory on 8th December, 1991, in order to agree de jure on an official document on the cessation of the existence of the Soviet Union and the establishment of a new organisation open to every post-Soviet state. Following to this act the Commonwealth of Independent States seated in the Belarusian Minsk originated as a free union of post-Soviet states with a newly acquired independence. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania rejected to join the Commonwealth, because they considered their previous membership of the Soviet Union involuntary and illegal. On 13th December, four Central Asian republics issued a statement concerning the foundation charter in which they declared their will to join the charter as regular members. Subsequently, the Treaty on the Accession of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to the CIS was officially endorsed at the Alma Ata Summit after seven days. The Azerbaijani Parliament headed by a pro-Turkish President refused to ratify the Treaty at first, however, it acceded to the Treaty later along with Georgia which had been active beyond the CIS firstly and it was not until 1993 that it integrated into the CIS under the pressure of the Russian Federation (RF or Russia). In view of civil conflicts in the territory of Transnistria, it was not until April 1994 that Moldova became a member after the new Parliament ratified treaties on accession to the Commonwealth and on the establishment of an economic union.
The Commonwealth has been headed by the Russian Sergey Lebedev since October 2007. Though being the heir to the Soviet Union, it doesn’t have many supranational powers and its significance is rather symbolic. This is surely caused by the lack of powers of its major bodies from individual member states.
The powers of the CIS are limited particularly to the coordination of business, financial, legislative and security questions. The construction of a new state administrative with new economic objectives and priorities has gone hand in hand with a considerable decline in output and diminished technological, scientific and cultural links among former Soviet Republics. Mutual relations based on the optimum division of labour, which had existed in the era of the Soviet Union, were thus much deep that they weren’t to be replaced and it was necessary to search for new ones as well as to restore former economic links.
On 24th June, 1993, the Presidents of the RF and Ukraine signed a package of agreements which pertained apart from other matters also to the establishment of a free trade zone between the two countries. This was the first step towards trade liberalisation and the removal of trade obstacles to mutual business which was fully comparable to documents on the establishment of the EC single market adopted by the then European Communities (EC) in the 1980’s. Nevertheless, dissensions as for the question of energy market liberalisation and mutual trade in natural gas caused that these agreements weren’t ratified by the Russian State Duma. Afterwards, both sides begun to negotiate customs concessions in connection with certain commodities the amount of whose grew reaching the number of approximately 2000 in the middle of 1990’s.
In September 1993, the Treaty on the Establishment of the Economic Union was adopted in Moscow. At the beginning, 8 countries acceded to the treaty, namely Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and also Ukraine on the basis of associated membership. The treaty presupposed gradual integration beginning with a free trade zone and customs, payment and monetary unions and ending in the establishment of a joint economic area with four freedoms. The principles of market economy, equal possibilities and guarantees for all economic subjects were in the foreground. The ecologic dimension of integration was included in the treaty as well.
The treaty on the finishing of the first integration stage was signed on 15th April, 1994, by the top representatives of twelve republics, however, it was ratified by parliaments of solely six countries. Even the signature of the treaty didn’t contribute to the step-up of internal trade among CIS members, since on the one hand prices within the Commonwealth approached the worldwide ones, but on the other hand newly-established countries started to look for new business partners and to orientate themselves to their foreign markets.
On 24th December, 1998, the Treaty on the Establishment of Economic Union was signed as the way out from regional crises. This was a sequel to the newly-established customs union. Its ultimate aim was the voluntary establishment of a single economic room with the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour that hadn’t been achieved up till that time within the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding more than a thousand agreements signed in the territory of the Commonwealth, only a tiny part of them took effect and countries like Georgia and Ukraine strived to avoid them. Georgia, for instance, backed out of more than 400 of them. Moreover, despite the parliaments’ ratifications the mechanism of the realisation of these agreements is thus much week that only few of them have been applied in some CIS membership country.
The failure to achieve the primary CIS aim of creating a single economic room with four freedoms led to the decrease of the number of countries that participated in integration processes within the Commonwealth as well as the struggle for multi-speed integration. In Astana on 10th October, 2000, the representatives of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the RF, and Tajikistan adopted a document on the establishment of the Organisation of Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) with the aim of creating the free trade zone among parties involved which would have set preconditions for a higher level of integration in the form a customs union and later also the formation of a single economic room. The document took effect in May 2001. EurAsEC became thus the third largest economic union in the world after the African Union and NAFTA and gained the status of an observer with the United Nations General Assembly. In 2002, the Russian Ministry for Economic Development and Trade declared that the establishment of a free trade union between Russia and Ukraine wasn’t in the interest of any of the countries. In March 2006, Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth too, whereas Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine fulfilled the task of observers.
Since 2002, parallel to EurAsEC there has been the Central Asian Cooperation Organisation established yet in 1991 by four Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with the aim of speeding up integration processes and strengthening political, economic, cultural and scientific and technological ties among the states in the region of Central Asia. The ground for the establishment of the grouping was the Uzbekistan’s unwillingness to integrate itself into groupings dominated by the Russian Federation. The economic potential of Turkmenistan, which had been gradually losing its interest in the integration with the countries of the Commonwealth, influenced the decision to abandon the organisation. After several years of suspended membership owing to civil unrests, Tajikistan succeeded in joining the organisation in 1998. In 2004, also the RF became a member and 2006 Uzbekistan left the organisation and subsequently joined the Treaty on the Establishment of EurAsEC. Since both organisations pursue similar goals, prior to the planned Uzbekistan’s membership of EurAsEC, the quest for the unification of these two countries became more real and at an intergovernmental summit in October 2005, the fusion of EurAsEC and the Central Asian Cooperation Organisation was agreed on. This was finally realised in January 2006. Uzbekistan’s entry into EurAsEC had fundamentally changed further orientation of both groupings the result of which was their fusion. Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey play the role of observers with the organisation.
The unwillingness of former Soviet Union member countries to take part in more in-depth integration processes with the RF emerges also from the fact that in view of its economic potential (4) Russia will have the vastest rights to vote like in the case of EurAsEC where it possesses 40 per cent of voting rights.
In February 2003, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine revived the idea of establishing a single economic room (5) with four freedoms. In the aftermath of the “gas wars”, as it were, (6) with Ukraine in December 2006 and (7) with Belarus in January 2007, when the Russian Government passed higher prices of supplied gas, Ukraine backed away from the idea at first and therefore the three remaining countries decided on a customs union without Ukraine. In September 2003, the Treaty on the Establishment of a Joint Economic Room was signed which presupposed the finishing of a single market and the introduction of a single currency by 2010 at the latest (8). Ukraine, however, demands from Russia the ratification of the 1993 treaties and that’s why it doesn’t partake in further integration processes in the CIS. It joined WTO and holds at the same time talks about the establishment of a free trade zone with the EU.
Rubble as the common currency in the CIS?
The first attempt to introduce rubble as a common currency in terms of the entire CIS was made in 1998. However, it fell on deaf ears. Belarus is the only potential CIS country which may be willing to exchange its currency for rubble. This could happen within the joint union of the RF and Belarus. Anyway, in the light of higher world prices of energy bearers as well as the rejection of the fact that Russia will be at the helm of the union the monetary integration of Belarus and Russian has been slowed down. The situation has turned complicated also owing to the economic theory’s perception of this monetary union which on one level refers to close interconnection of these economies, on another level reproaches them for not fulfilling the condition of macroeconomic symmetry which is one of the main preconditions for the creation of the so-called “optimum monetary zone”.
As the statistics of the Russian Federation’s Central Bank suggest, the amount of bank transactions conducted in rubbles as well as euros has grown considerably. This was initiated as early as the second half of 2006 when Russia removed last obstacles to the free movement of capital with regard to the transition from rubble to freely interchangeable currency. Originally it was assumed that the increase of the number of foreign customers from CIS countries contributed to the growth of bank transactions, however, official data from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation disproved this thesis since most of foreign owners of rubble accounts came right from EU countries (predominantly the Britons, Luxemburgers, Germans, Austrians), China and the US (9).
The Interstate Council of the Commonwealth, which met in session in Moscow (RF) on 25th January, 2008, has been the last attempt to establish a customs union in terms of the EurAsEC to date. Belarus and Kazakhstan have re-confirmed their will to found a customs union through the signature of nine documents. The signed documents pertain primarily to the modification of customs tariffs that is supposed to contribute to the harmonisation of customs tariffs and the creation of a functional customs union by 2010. In the documents was included also the single social policy concept based on minimum social standards which presupposes the establishment of a joint labour market and free movement of labour within the EurAsEC as well. The focal controversial points are monetary policy questions, investment security and tariffs for energy supplies (10).
Attempts to alternative projects
Although experts propose various shapes of the collaboration among the former union republics (11), political peculiarities in the post-Soviet room are thus much diverse and colourful that it’s hard to imagine any kind of model of its re-integration. Each country has chosen its own way of integration into world economic and political structures. Nowadays, the dependence on the former centre hinges mainly on the invention of a way how to cope with the lack of raw materials and financial sources. To what extent the countries of the former Soviet Union will integrate themselves into the world economy depends on the possibilities, methods and prospects of social and economic issues of these states as well as the absorbent capacity of world economy.
The majority of newly-established sovereign states united in the CIS have showed their interest in independent entry into world market as well as the acquisition of strategic partners and donors from among developed countries and new close centres of influence. In the course of last years, thank to the successful realisation of the Washington Consensus, which presupposes besides other things also the conduction of economic reforms and privatisation, the overall macroeconomic situation of CIS transitive economies has distinctly changed for better and the countries begun to seek new investment sources in order to maintain their economic growth.
The application for the entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was handed in by ten out of twelve countries of the former Soviet Union (12), however, just four of them have succeeded in integrating themselves into international economic structures so far. The Republic of Kyrgyzstan joined as a pioneering country the WTO in 1998 and thus became a part of globalised world economy. In 2000, it was followed by Georgia and later on by Moldova. Meanwhile, Armenia is the last country from among CIS states which has been the member of the WTO, namely since 2003. On 5th February, 2008, Ukraine acceded to the Treaty on the establishment of the WTO, anyway, it will become a regular member 30 days after the ratification of the Treaty on Accession in the country’s parliament. In connection with future Russian membership of the WTO, which is due in the second half of 2008, the Russian side holds active bilateral negotiations with other members which may veto its entry owing to any reasons.
The reorientation of foreign trade towards market outside the CIS
Foreign trade in terms of the CIS has shrunk since its inception and in the period from 1992 to 2003 we may speak of a triple decrease of mutual trade from 79 per cent in 1991 to 26 per cent in 2003. Foreign trade of CIS countries with Russia amounted solely to 17.7 per cent of their total foreign trade in 2004, whereas in 1990 this share accounted for 60 per cent (for comparison see the development of mutual foreign trade within the Commonwealth – Chart No.1).
Chart No.1. The geographical structure of the exports of CIS countries in 1995 and 2005 (per cent)
Notes: Statistical Bureau of the CIS
During the process of the search of new partners, the Commonwealth member states re-orientated their exports towards new foreign markets, namely the countries of European Union (EU) in particular. Furthermore, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Ukraine have stepped up the volume of their exports to the huge Turkish market; Turkmenistan has chosen Iran; Armenia has intensified economic relations with Israel; Kyrgyzstan has focused on United Arab Emirates, etc.
In the aftermath of certain disappointment caused by the inability of new partners to secure appropriate conditions for self-fulfilment, countries with the lack of energy resources have been affected by the loss of Russia as the major supplier of cheap raw materials and provider of advantageous donations and credits. Nonetheless, in the countries’ effort to return Russia aggravated the conditions for credit acquisition and increased the prices of energy bearers to the level of worldwide prices. Difficult geopolitical development in the area of the former Soviet Union was the consequence.
Although the Commonwealth isn’t an ideal way out, its origin is a successful model of the harmonisation of interstate relations as well as the only Russian existent tool for preserving partially this sphere of its influence. As the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister S. Lavrov hinted, Russia has understandable and legitimate interests within the post-Soviet room which it will never give up and intends to put them into practice on the basis of mutual and equal collaboration (13).
The status and task of some countries, or rather, regions in the CIS
Armenia is surrounded by Muslim countries like Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey and has just a single possibility of retaining integrity and sovereignty over its territory. Although it lively cooperates with the transatlantic alliance NATO having the prospect of future membership, it cannot forget about the irreplaceable task of Russia as the major strategic partner in the region of Caucasus with regard to border problems solution. The cause of the hampered NATO integration might by the concern over the loss of such strategic partner like the RF the military forces of which patrol Armenian borders with Azerbaijan in order to prevent a new outbreak of war. This is probably the reason for its participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO (14)), though the significance and future prospects of dispute solution on this platform are minimal as Azerbaijan isn’t a member of this organisation. From the economic point of view Armenia takes part in integration groupings exclusively on the level of the Commonwealth, which, however, makes very little progress as a whole. None of CIS states is particularly interested in this country. It’s the result of the absence of energy materials sources in its territory which increases its dependence on gas and oil supplies from Russia and Iran as the new business partner as well as its absence in international oil and gas pipelines.
In the period from January to April 2007, Armenian foreign trade with CIS countries grew from 29.3 per cent to 33.6 per cent in comparison to the same period of the year 2006. Export to CIS countries has upward tendency and in 2006 it amounted traditionally to approximately 20 per cent of the overall Armenian exports. Just for the sake of comparison, the share accounted for 65 per cent in 1995. Its main and traditional export partners in terms of the CIS are Russia (45 per cent), Georgia (12 per cent) and Ukraine (5 per cent). The figures stand for the overall export share of all CIS countries the weight of whose has grown as regards Armenian exports since 2002 according to the Armenian Development Agency. Anyway, more than half of Armenian products flow to EU countries (mainly Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium) and Israel (10 per cent) at present.
Due to the lack of own energy materials Armenia and Moldova are dependent on their import. That’s why Russian Gazprom needn’t have put in much effort to take control of their energy industry and dictate tariffs that it wished. The situation is different in Azerbaijan which rejected the January gas price increase and inclined rather towards the development of own resources and infrastructure. Moreover, it significantly decreased oil exports through Russian oil pipeline to Novorosijsk. Similar situation arose in Georgia after it had been provided with the missing gas by Azerbaijan and Turkey from the biggest Azerbaijani gas field Shah Deniz. During a meeting in March 2007, the Presidents of Kazakhstan and Georgia agreed also on the plan for the construction of a refinery in Georgia which was supposed to supply the only oil pipeline bypassing Russia, i.e. the Baku – Tbilisi – Ceyhan route (15)).
One of the main objectives of the NATO global strategy is to defend the interests of the US and its allies in a broader context. Since the door into the Alliance is open to everybody, after the entry of Baltic states, according to the assumptions by Z. Brzezinski presented in the article “Geostrategy for Eurasia” in 1997, also CIS countries, the cooperation with which was under way in terms of the program “Partnership for Peace”, displayed interest in joining it. Among these countries are: Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova. They are known as the military alliance GUUAM was transformed into the Organisation for Democracy and Economic Development GUAM in December 2006 after the renewal of Uzbekistani membership (16) of CSTO. At the last CSTO summit presided by Kyrgyzstan in October 2007, documents were adopted on the basis of which member states would be able besides other things to buy for their armies Russian weapons and military technology for domestic lower prices. Apart from CSTO and GUAM the representatives of Georgia and Azerbaijan intend to found a military union with Turkey in order to undertake joint steps in the fight against international terrorism. In view of Turkish membership of NATO it is assumed that the military cooperation of these countries coordinated by Turkey will bring higher stability into the region and that their possible integration into the transatlantic military alliance will step up chances for their potential entry into European Union structures mainly owing to stability grounds.
Lots of experts assumed the outbreak of something like the “Cold War” between Russia and the West in view of the culmination of the situation in Ukraine and Georgia and after their call for integration into Western structures, namely the EU/EC and the transatlantic alliance NATO. Notwithstanding the defiant attitude of Russia to further alliance enlargement, Ukraine and Georgia are strategic and special EU partner and since 2004 they have been collaborating with NATO more intensively participating in peacemaking missions and laying great stress to the adapting to NATO standards.
One of the impediments to Ukrainian joining of world economy was that it lodged a complaint with WTO as regards the demand of the EU for the cancellation of export duties on metal and agricultural products prior to the planned Ukrainian entry into the WTO (17). However, a month later an agreement was reached between the EU and Ukraine in which the Union voiced its full support of the integration of an economy with rather advanced agriculture and steel industry into the WTO. By joining the WTO on 5th February, 2008, an opportunity arose for Ukraine to veto alongside the US, the EU and Georgia the entry of the RF into WTO primarily due to the violation of intellectual property. Ukraine had been looking forward to it since 1993 (18). At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2008 the Ukrainian President V. Youshenko proposed the representatives of the RF to return to the Treaty on the Establishment of Free Trade Zone between both countries in 1993 (19). In accordance with WTO principles Ukraine asked also the cancellation of customs duties, apart from others also those which the RF imposed on oil and earth gas export to Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian President the WTO membership will bring the speed-up of economic growth by 1.5 – 1.7 per cent in average per annum to Ukraine. Simultaneously, Ukraine started to negotiate with the EU about the establishment of a free trade zone (20).
The number of opponents of Russian entry into the WTO has been sinking gradually. Poland has vanished from the ranks of its business enemies after the alternation of supreme power in November 2007. Not only did it threaten to veto the entry, but also impeded its admission to the club of the 30 richest economies united in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as well as the prolongation of the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the RF and the EU.
Georgian calling for transatlantic structures manifested at the NATO summit in Prague in 2002 sparks further crises, because due to its entry Russia will maintain just a tiny part of its sphere of influence over the Black Sea stretching across a few hundreds of kilometres. It was hinted by the “Pink” revolution which gave an impetus to transatlantic institutions as regards the pro-Western orientation of the country. Russian representatives began to deliberate on the necessity to restore the National Security Concept immediately after the referendum on Georgian NATO entry dated 5th January, 2008, in which 73 per cent of inhabitants voted for. The approach of NATO military infrastructure in the sphere of CSTO influence will change the geopolitical situation in the region. A new concept element should be the clause on the utilisation of armed forces as well as nuclear weapons with the aim of preventing the endangerment of situation in the territory of Russia and its strategic partners (21).
Pro-Russian Belarus, where Aleksandr Lukashenko was elected President for the third time in the March 2006 elections, strives for a deeper integration with the RF with the aim of establishing a political union and a united state. In order to achieve the objectives set Lukashenko’s Government tried to resist revolutionary pressure like was the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine or the “Pink Revolution” in Georgia. Anyway, after the Russian Government had increased the prices of earth gas in January 2007 and concurrently imposed export duties on oil imported to Belarus, the country started to orientate towards the West according to Moldovan pattern (22) and the quest for the establishment of a political union with Russia faded into the background. In 2007, the country took the 151st place out of 167 in the clanok of freedom, which means that this is after Uzbekistan the worst freedom result within the CIS (23). In addition to this, during a two-day visit to Venezuela, the President Lukashenko signed an agreement with his Venezuelan counterpart which granted continual oil and earth gas supplies to Belarus in exchange for the dispatch of Belorussian engineers offering assistance in the fields of mining, the construction of flats, education system, etc. The Last Dictators, as it were, from Europe and Latin America agreed on military cooperation too. The President of Venezuela would like to obtain a missile defence system equipped with radar and anti-aircraft missiles from Georgia.
The importance of the Central Asian region has been gaining new dimensions. The region comprises two economically non-homogenous groups. On the one hand it’s been joined by countries with abundant supplies of energy materials like Kazakhstan, which possesses the second vastest raw material sources after Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with gas supplies of the same amount, but on the other hand there are economically dependent states like Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Although Tajikistan has been getting more aid from its close Asian neighbours recently, Russian financial capital is irreplaceable and therefore Tajikistan takes Russian side (24). Tashkent pursues hegemony in the region which stirs up tensions in relations mainly with Tajikistan. These were caused by the recent development in Tajik politics when pro-Uzbek elites were removed from power. Finally, it culminated in imposing customs between these two countries. The relations have got worse after 18th December 200? when Uzbekistan along with Turkmenistan started to apply coordinated gas policy on the basis of which they increased prices of gas exported to Russia and surrounding poor countries of the region.
Considering massive water resources, which are potentially employed in agriculture and power engineering, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as exclusive energy exporters to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan agreed at the suggestion of Russia on the establishment of Eurasian Hydroenergy Consortium that was to be financed by the Eurasian Development Bank (25). From the long-term point of view after securing energy to the parties involved, the consortium could supply China and Iran with energy as well.
One has to point out the rising influence of China in the region of Central Asia. China pushes through tactfully and gradually its economic and political interests in terms of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) founded in 1996 that unites besides the four Central Asian republics also Russia and the People’s Republic of China. At the beginning, it served as a forum for cross-border disputes solutions, the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism. At present, these goals have given way to commercial and economic interests. India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have been granted the status of observers. Following the 2005 Andidjanda events, the relations between Uzbekistan and the US came to a head, which resulted in Uzbekistan’s ordinance ordering the US military troops to withdraw from the Central Asian region. The granting of the observer status to Iran, which had ambitions to become SCO member, as well as the events of Andidjanda in Uzbekistan have given rise to the shift in US stance on this grouping perceived to be the union of the so-called “rogue states” (26).
Aware of their enormous energy potential (27), the leaders of EurAsEC and the EU met at the 2006 summit in Sochi dedicated to energy market reform. Summit results were assessed positively by both sides. A system of oil and gas pipelines for the supplying of energy materials form the CIS to Europe was laid out. In accordance with the plan Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan as the suppliers would utilise the existent Russian oil pipeline Druzba and provide the EU with oil through Ukraine and Belarus as transit countries. Thus they would help Russia to fulfil its commitments to them. Because of numerous crises, that these transit countries are plagued with, and with the aim of bypassing them, Russian side deals with the project of the building of a new oil pipeline that would rule out the necessity to transport oil from Russian Novorosijsk through Bosporus to Europe.
In the course of German EU presidency in the second half of 2007, EU member states agreed on a new strategic document called “EU and Central Asia: Strategy for new partnership”. The strategy consists in direct aid to some regions. It applies, for example, to the fight against human trafficking, drugs trafficking, organised criminality and international terrorism. By means of diverse programs the strategy is supposed to disclose the grounds of instability like weak government, bad legal system, poverty and the violation of human rights (28). Apart from the pushing through of its democratic principles the EU could also turn to good account the construction of the Nabucco gas pipeline the costs of which are estimated at five billion euro. The pipe is to start in Central Asia and transport gas through Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Black Sea, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria to other EU countries. In the end of January 2008, the Ukrainian PM came with a new proposal on the reduction of costs by two billion euro as well as the number of the links of the entire chain. According to the proposal the gas will be transported to Crimea and from there directly to EU countries. However, Ukrainian reputation as a transit country doesn’t allow the EU representatives to take such a proposal into account (29).
Another liaison in the field of economic activity coordination within gas industry is the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries which was established at the top meeting in Teheran in 2001 by the representatives of countries with the largest supplies of gas (30) with the aim of upholding research, creating a transparent market with natural gas and improving mutual understanding and the dialogue between gas producers and gas consumers as well as governments and enterprises working in the field of power engineering. A short time ago at the summit in Cairo, the forum participants agreed on Iranian initiative to transform the forum into a cartel organisation based on similar fundaments like the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). However, its origin is criticised by the US and the EU predominantly due to Iranian and Venezuelan membership. As for CIS region Russia belongs to the permanent member of the forum as well as Turkmenistan that participates occasionally in some forum sessions (31). Among the RF, Iran and Qatar, i.e. three countries with the biggest earth gas supplies in the world, a consensus was reached some time ago which dealt with the future shape of this organisation. The charter of the new organisation will be introduced at the 7th annual forum session in June 2008 in the capital of Russia. At the EurAsEC session in April, the RF will make an appearance with the Charter of MANNGO, i.e. the International Association of Non-Governmental Gas Organisations headed by a Secretary General elected for a three-year term, by means of which Russia wants to reinforce its position in terms of the CIS as well as the newly-established gas cartel. The headquarters of MANNGO should be in Moscow since Russia possesses the most extensive gas supplies as well as the densest transport network in the entire Commonwealth. The association’s goal will be the just division of incomes from gas export for producers and transporters and the creation of joint investment sources necessary for the development of gas industry. Russia presupposes the membership of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Belarus in the association, i.e. countries that have been considering the entry for a long time (32). Belorussian participation is probably justified from the viewpoint of its status of a transit country. After US experts had discovered huge oil and earth gas deposits in the north of Afghanistan in the second half of 2006, the RF showed sudden interest in Tajikistan which shares common territory with Afghanistan and is also its major energy supplier.
The ultimate condition of economic integration in the territory of the CIS
The diversity of the Eurasian region of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which originated on the ruins of the demised Soviet Union and the COMECON, as well as the different volume of natural resources in the former Soviet republics used to lead and still lead to the pursuit of various foreign political interests and priorities.
The Commonwealth is a classic intergovernmental and international organisation which is capable of finding its status neither in international and political nor in economic relations in view of the insufficient measure of the national states’ delegating powers. Despite failing in the fulfilment of its ambitious goals, the Commonwealth has made progress solely as for the establishment of the free trade zone and mutual reduction of business obstacles so far. On the basis of the bilateral agreements, just 27 out of more than 12 thousand commodities on the CIS internal market are liable to duty.
Gradually, the number of subjects from Eurasian region interested in any form of integration has been sinking. At the beginning of previous decade, the Soviet Union, which was composed of 15 states, transformed itself into the Commonwealth of Independent States comprised of just 12 ones and at present, various integration waves are under way in which only few of them take part.
In the last years, CIS countries were successful to some extent in terms of political and particularly economic collaboration. This success cannot be attributed to integration waves, which were under way on the level of the CIS, however, because of the diversity and richness of its foreign priorities and interests, to the willingness of individual countries to take part in multi-speed integration within certain integration groupings. On one level it is the pro-Russian organisation CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation), EurAsEC (Eurasian Economic Cooperation) and the Union of the Russian Federation and Belarus which become more and more unreal due to political as well as economic reasons. We may place here the cooperation of Central Asian republics and the RF with China within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) along with the ambitions to establish a cartel based on similar fundaments like the OPEC which have been facing severe criticism from the side of the European Union and the US because of the participation of controversial countries like Iran, Venezuela, Peru and Pakistan. On another level there is the Organisation for Democracy and Economic Development GUAM which is positively received by the West. The gap between it and the Eurasian power has been growing. At the same time the organisation has been still more approaching to Western transatlantic structures.
The intensity and shape of further integration in the territory of the former Soviet Union will largely depend on this year’s election results in Russia. In case that the elections are won by the candidate supported by the President, the preservation of V. Putin’s influence over the Russian foreign policy is expected. Nowadays, under the lead of the current President a development program for the country up to 2010 has been worked on. This means that the future development of Russian Federation’s foreign as well as domestic policy will be definitely marked by V. Putin’s ideas.
Moreover, the next common summit of CSTO and EurAsEC presided by Armenia and Tajikistan, which is due in the first half of 2008 in the capital of Tajikistan Dushanbe, seems to be promising from the viewpoint of accepting further agreements with the aim of liberalising mutual trade in terms of these groupings. Time will tell if the third largest economic union is in view of its unlimited potential and the quality of its integration capable of competing.
(1) Turkmenistan cancelled its membership of the CIS on 26th August, 2005. It has been an associated member of the Commonwealth ever since which means that the CIS is composed of 11 states at present, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and the RF. However, it’s to be pointed out that although Ukraine isn’t an official CIS member, because it hasn’t ratified its foundation charter so far, it is perceived to be a member country of the CIS.
(2) The territory of the CIS comprises 16.3 per cent of the world’s territory housing 5 per cent of the world’s population. The Commonwealth possesses 25 per cent of the world’s natural resources and has a 12 per cent share of the world’s scientific and technological potential. To the comparative advantages of the CIS belongs also the relatively cheap but well-educated labour.
(3) Some scientists speak of 35-40 per cent utilisation of its potential.
(4) The RF is lived in by 51.2 per cent of the overall number of the Commonwealth’s inhabitants, it has a 77.4 per cent share of its GDP and secures 71.7 per cent of its industrial production.
(5) The name is still the subject of discussion: the RF advocates the name “Joint Economic Room” while Kazakhstan, for instance, wishes the “Eurasian Economic Union”.
(6) Shishkov, J.: SNG: Poltora desyatiletiya tshyotnykh usiliy. In: Voprosy Ekonomiki, 4/2007. ISSN 0042-8736, s. 113-126
(7) The year 2006 was within CIS countries ironically called the Year of CIS.
(8) Chapylgin, V., Hallett, H., Richter, C.: Monetary integration in the ex-Soviet Union: A „union of four”? In: The Economics of Transition. Vol. 14, No.1/2006, s. 48
(9) Europe Believes Rubles Is Convertible. 22nd January ,2008, In: http://www.kommersant.com
(10) EurAsEC Returns to Customs Union, 28th January 2008. In: http://www.kommersant.com
(12) Turkmenistan and Tajikistan haven’t shown interest in the entry into the WTO yet.
(13) Lavrov Optimistic about CIS. 23rd January, 2008. In: http://www.kommersant.com
(14) Nowadays, CSTO has seven members. It was established in October 1992 as the tool for the slowing down, or rather, termination of eastern NATO enlargement. In the centre of its attention are the questions of illegal migration, terrorism and organised crime the solution of whose is one of the primary stability factors in the region. The treaty participants committed themselves to provide mutually an immediate help in the case of an external attack.
(15) Saivetz, C.R.: Russia: An Energy Superpower? MIT Center for International Studies, December 2007
(16) Uzbekistan was one of the founders of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation signing it in 2002, however, in view of the dissatisfaction with Russian hegemony it abandoned it in 1998 and chose a military collaboration with the US.
(17) Ukraine Stopped a Step Away From WTO. 10th December 2007. In: http://www.kommersant.com
(18) Beattie, A., Olearchyk, R.: Ukraine steps closer to WTO entry. 17th January 2008. In: http://www.ft.com
(19) Ukraine Named Its Price for WTO Entry. 29th January 2008. In: http://www.kommersant.com
(20) Ukraine Complicates Russian WTO Quest. 6th February 2008. In: http://www.kommersant.com
(21) Army chief: Russia may use nuclear weapons if necessary. 19th January 2008. In: http://www.chinaview.cn
(22) Since December 2006, the EU has been providing Moldova with financial assistance amounting to one third of its gross domestic product in terms of a three-year program.
(23) Worldwide Press Freedom clanok is issued annually by the international organisation Reporters without borders.
(24) Horák, S.: Rusko v současné Střední Asii – návrat nebo kontinuita? Případ Tádžikistánu. In: Medzinárodní vztahy 3/2005, pages 94-95
(25) Eurasian Development Bank was founded in 2006 by the representatives of Russia and Kazakhstan with the aim of providing investments to CIS countries. Since 1st February, 2008, the basic capital of the bank has been composed of Russian contributions accounting for one billion dollars and Kazakh contributions amounting to 0.5 billion dollars.
(26) Iwashita, A.: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Japan: Moving Together to Reshape the Eurasian Community. The Brookings Institution. 28th January 2008
(27) EurAsEC has 4 per cent of the world’s energy resources and 20 per cent of uranium resources.
(28) Kassenová N.: The New EU Strategy towards Central Asia: A View from the Region. The Centrum for European policy studies, January 2008
(29) Ukraine Wants to Call New Gas Tune. 30th January 2008. In: http://www.kommersant.com
(30) Among permanent forum members are Algeria, Bolivia, Brunei, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, the RF, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. Turkmenistan takes part only in some meetings, whereas Norway has the status of an observer.
(31) Cartel Time: “Gas OPEC” May Appear. 24th January 2008. In: http://www.kommersant.com
(32) “Gas OPEC” Drawing Closer. 28th January 2008. In: http://www.kommersant.com