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Turkmenistan's Decision on its CIS Membership is a Logical Step

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SAPARMURAT TURKMENBASHY THE GREAT (1940-2006)

31.08.05. At the recent CIS summit in Kazan, Turkmenistan declared that from now on it would participate in this organization as an associated member. For some reason mass media called this step of Ashgabat almost the summit’s main sensation, though the participants of the event took this news easy enough. It means they have rather adequate understanding and perception of those objective realities that have developed in the post-Soviet territory by now. These are such realities that today’s CIS as an organization, if not formally but certainly functionally and by content, strongly differs from that geopolitical formation which emerged on the debris of the Soviet Union in the early 90-ies of the last century.

Like it or not, one has to agree with the obvious fact: the meaning the capitals of the newly independent states initially put in the abbreviation "CIS" 14 years ago differed quite sharply. For someone, it was a form of "civilized divorce", for others - an integration project based on new principles, for the third - no more than a consultation mechanism. Attempts "to combine incompatible" with all (without any irony) good intentions failed. The point here is not about the fact that the signed contracts and agreements did not work, including economic, financial and other mechanisms. By definition, all this cannot effectively function without a single "governing" Center or supra-national body.

The problem is much deeper and more conceptual. It is about our world outlook and, on this basis, about the choice of the model of development - geopolitical, social-economic, spiritual and ideological that each country in the post Soviet territory chose and has been moving along based on their own objective historical, mental and ethno-cultural realities, at times even against the aspirations, attitude and corporate interests of these or other groups of the political elite. The events of the last period within the CIS, both domestic and foreign policy, with all their ambiguity, as is seen, have simply speeded up and regulated this process.

As a result, today we have what we have, and we should make it straight: the CIS has not come true as an effective interstate union. Moreover, the Commonwealth, particularly in the recent time, has begun crushing at full speed on political and economic blocs and unions with clear military components which at times was the main cause. Often, it involved non-CIS forces. Organization of the Collective Security Treaty, Shanghais Organization of Cooperation, GUAM, Eurasian Economic Cooperation, Single Economic Space and quite fresh Community of Democratic Choice. Interests and goals of member-states of these organizations and their supporters are not just different. At times, they are quite opposite. It is neither bad nor good. It is objective. As was mentioned above, the point here is about a strategic choice on the basis of objective realities.

In these circumstances the decision of Ashgabat to radically downgrade its level and status in the CIS looks logical, well-thought over and justified. Neutral Turkmenistan cannot and is not going to "taxi out" further in the palings of various military-political blocs, unions and groupings in the post Soviet territory. As for the "formal" participation in the organization which is deprived of the joint conceptual base, it is senseless. The "civilized divorce" has taken place. It would be wrong for one to attend new, almost alien weddings as a wedding general. That is why a declaration by the president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, on the associated membership in the CIS is not a demarche and political peacockery. This decision was dictated by Turkmenistan's clear understanding of its role and place in the post Soviet realities that have changed significantly over fifteen years, its intention to build relations with partners from the former USSR not on the basis of some myths that have bored everybody and lulling each other with conversations on "unity of destinies" but clear and widely accepted principles: mutual benefit, compatibility of interests, sober calculation.

Schemes of such partnership have been long proved. They can be bilateral, trilateral and multilateral. The thing is not about geometrical forms but their content. If the flesh is alive, one can work. The form should be realized in the content. This is the main point of Turkmen "sensation" at the Kazan summit.

Sergey DUBROVIN
Political analyst, Moscow

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