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COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES 

The heads of the Republic of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine signed an agreement on the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on December 8, 1991, in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

On December 21, 1991, in Alma-Ata, the heads of eleven sovereign states (except for Georgia) signed a protocol to this agreement, in which they emphasized that all the republics form the CIS on an equal basis. The participants of the meeting adopted the Alma-Ata Declaration that confirmed their commitment to cooperate in different areas of external and internal policy, and proclaimed the guarantees to fulfill international obligationsof the former Soviet Union.

Georgia joined the Commonwealth on December 1993, andwithdrewfrom theunionon August 18, 2009. Turkmenistan is an associate member of the CIS.

The Commonwealth of Independent States is not a state and does not possess supranational powers; it is based on sovereign equality of all its members and acts on the grounds of the Charter of January 22, 1993. Member Nations of the Commonwealth are autonomous and equal subjects of international law.

At present, S. Lebedev is a Chairman of the Executive Committee, Executive Secretary of the CIS.

In line with the practice, there are annually one formal meeting and one informal meeting of the CIS Heads of State, two meetings of the CIS Heads of Government and two meetings of theCouncil of the CIS Foreign Ministers.

Structure:

1. Council of the Heads of State

2. Council of the Heads of Government

3. Council of the Foreign Ministers

4. Economic Council

5. Council ofthe Defense Ministers

6. Council of Border Troops Commanders

7.  Economic Court of the CIS

8.  Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the CIS

9. Permanent authorized representatives of the CIS Member Nations to the statutory and other bodies of the Commonwealth

10. Permanent authorized representatives of the CIS Member Nations to the Commission for Economic Issues under the Economic Council of the CIS

11. Executive Committee of the CIS

The Commonwealth is characterized by selective participation of the states in various areas of multilateral cooperation, which is therefore carried out in the format of stakeholders. The decisions of the CIS bodies are effective only for those states that participated in their adoption.

In order to increase the efficiency of the CIS activities and improve its structure, the Concept of the CIS Further Development and Action Plan for its implementation, covering all areas of cooperation,were developed under the initiative of Kazakhstan and approved on October 2007, in Dushanbe. According to them, the Strategy for Economic Development of the CIS until 2020 was prepared and adopted.

An example of active promotion of trade and economic cooperation between the CIS Member Nations was the signing of the Free Trade Zone Agreement on October 18, 2011 in Saint-Petersburg, designed to give an additional impetus to the growth of national economies and the CIS potential in general.

In 2011 the Commonwealth of Independent States celebrated its 20th anniversary.

During the Anniversary Summit in Moscow on December 21, 2011, the Heads of State summarizing the results of the Commonwealth activities over 20 years and its development prospects reaffirmed the commitment to collaborate in this format and their intentions to enhance practical outcomes of the CIS work towards strengthening mutual understanding and interaction between the Member Nations, actual improvements in the lives of people, their well-being, expansion of intercommunications.

The Declaration of the Heads of State, adopted following the Ashgabat Summit of the Heads of State of December 5, 2012, expresses the readiness of the states to further consolidate the CIS role in the creation of a system of regional and interregional relations, and to establish a viable and effective mechanism of cooperation that meets the modern day requirements.

Political cooperation in the Commonwealth of Independent States is generally maintained through the Council of the Foreign Ministers, providing such a form of cooperation as multilevel consultations between ministries of foreign affairs.

In 2014, 11 consultations were heldon countering new challenges and threats, interaction within international organizations, situation in Afghanistan andconsular cooperation.

The Commonwealth established legal and institutional mechanisms to ensure security and respond to new challenges and threats. It conceptualized the agreed principles, objectives, main directions, forms, a system of cooperation and interaction in this area of joint activities. In order to putthem into practice, medium-term interstate programs of joint measures are being introduced to combat crime, terrorism and other violent manifestations of extremism, illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, illegal migration and human trafficking. Consistent efforts are being madetoformalize the participation of the CIS Member Nations in the international legal instruments that govern cooperation on countering contemporary challenges and threats to security.

The core of the cooperation system in the humanitarian areais specialized agencies of the Commonwealth. These include the Council for Humanitarian Cooperation and the CIS Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation.

Theiractive involvementhelped to hold large cultural and social eventsin 2013: the 5th Forum of Creative and Scientific Intelligentsia (September, Minsk), congresses of teachers and education workers, CIS International Sports Games, concert and educational tours of the CIS Youth Symphony Orchestra, etc.

Such activities are carried out in accordance with: the Action Plan to Implement the International Youth Cooperation Strategy until 2020, Concept of physical culture and sports development, CIS Tourism Cooperation Development Strategy, Concept of Cultural Cooperation, Plan of priority actions in humanitarian cooperation for 2013-2014.

In order to enhance and enrich cultural relations between the CIS Member Nations,on October 25, 2013, the Council of the CIS Headsof State approved the decision to carry out an Interstate program Cultural Capitals of the Commonwealth in the Republic of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, declaring Almaty and Osh cultural capitals of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 2014, and Voronezh and Kulyab were declared the CIS cultural capitals in 2015.

On October 10, 2014, the meeting of the Council of theCIS Heads of State adopted a Decision on the Chairmanship of the Republic of Kazakhstan of the CIS in 2015.

The main efforts of Kazakhstan during its CIS chairmanshipin 2015 were focused on the following:

- building trust and mutual understanding in the Commonwealth to promote initiatives aimed at supporting stability and security in the CIS;

- enhancement of the Organization’s role in addressing pressing issues of multilateral cooperation;

- deepening trade and economic interaction, including enhancement of cooperation in industry, energy, transport, communications and other areas;

- strengthening cultural and humanitarian ties, including cooperation in science, education, sports, tourism and youth policy.

A joint celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War became a landmark eventfor the CIS in 2015.

During its chairmanship,Kazakhstan heldthe meetings of the Council of the Heads of Government (May 29, 2015,Burabay),Council of the Foreign Ministers(October 15, 2015, Astana) and Council of the CIS Heads of State (October 16, 2015, Burabay.) Moreover, Kazakhstan chaired the meetings of the Council of the CIS Foreign Ministers on April 3, 2015 in Bishkek, Council of the CIS Heads of Government on October 30, 2015 in Dushanbe, CIS Economic Council (quarterly in Moscow), as well as of specialized bodies of the Commonwealth.