CIS INTERPARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES

ST. PETERSBURG (Itar-Tass)The CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly ended its in St. Petersburg Saturday by re-electing Russian Federation Council head Yegor Stroyev–who is its chairman–and deciding to hold the next session in May or June of this year.

Saturday’s session was attended by parliament speakers from Azerbaijan–Armenia– Belorussia–Georgia–Kazakhstan–Kirghizia–Moldavia–Russia and Tajikistan. Ukraine sent an observer– while Uzbekistan did not attend.

Of all the CIS states–only Turkmen’stan has not joined the Assembly. Special attention was paid to the need to combat terrorism. The participants adopted a statement condemning all manifestations of terrorism–including hostage-taking. The statement also said that peacekeeping and assistance in settling conflicts are one of the most important areas of the Assembly’s work.

The participants called on the parliamen’s and governmen’s of member countries to accelerate the ratification of agreemen’s signed within the CIS.

Azerbaijan–Georgia and Moldavia insisted that the next session of the Assembly discuss the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh–Abkhazia and the Dniester region.

The session participants also approved measures aimed at creating a single information space in the CIS and facilitating integration among member countries.

However–Mikhail Krotov–secretary of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly which will celebrate its fifth anniversary this month–told Itar-Tass that "by the degree of preparedness for participation in the integration processes–the CIS countries are very heterogeneous. That is why they have not been able to fully use the potential of integration yet."

Krotov said that of all the CIS states–Russia and Belorussia have best set an example of the closest cooperation comparable to that in the European Union.

The Customs Union–which involves Belorussia–Kazakhstan–Kirghizia and Russia–appears to be less prepared for such integration–Krotov said.

"This association reminds me of Europe 15-20 years ago–without superanational structures and a single currency," he said.

Krotov said ways to accelerate integration in the CIS were discussed at Saturday’s session of the Assembly’s Council and expressed the hope that "the next five years of the Assembly’s work will lead the CIS countries to a totally new level of closer cooperation."

To this end–the session participants decided to establish an Economic Forum as part of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.

"We need this Economic Forum and should create it without delay," St. Petersburg Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev said. "It will be a Davos forum-type organization involving not only Russian but all CIS business people–as well as their colleagues from the West–including the United States."

Russia and other CIS countries are major technology consumers and have vast markets of resources which attract "many people who want to make the quick ruble," Stroyev said.

"If a forum is created–order will be restored," he added. Stroyev said Russian President Boris Yeltsin has agreed to participate in the forum.

The forum should not only help attract more investment in the Russian economy but also encourage Russian governors who have been seeking support and bank guarantees around the world on their own– he said.

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