YEREVAN (combined sources)–High-ranking security officials from Armenia–Russia and ten other former Soviet republics began on Thursday a two-day meeting in Yerevan to discuss joint measures to combat crime across the Commonwealth of Independent States. The ministers will review progress in the implementation of a three-year anti-criminality plan agreed by their governmen’s last year.
Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov said the CIS Council of Interior Ministers will also discuss ways of countering drug trafficking and "international terrorism," a term Moscow frequently uses to describe Islamic militants in Chechnya and Central Asia. Several multilateral agreemen’s are due to be signed on Friday.
Kyrgyz Interior Minister Tashtemir Aitbayev–who opened the meeting–said it "will make a substantial contribution to the common cause of struggle against crime and?will strengthen interaction between the [law-enforcement] services in the main directions of their activities". Aitbayev–who holds the position of the CIS interior ministers council chairman thanked the Armenian government for proper organization of the session and said that the documen’s the participants were going to adopt would step up the struggle against crime on the territory of the CIS.
Addressing the 20th session of the CIS interior ministers council–Armenian Interior Minister Hayk Harutunian expressed hope that it would give a new impetus to struggling against organized crime and would promote the strengthening of cooperation among member countries.
Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Margarian and ambassadors of some CIS countries accredited in Yerevan–were also present at the session. Margarian emphasized the need for coordinated activity in a rapidly changing world which is frequently fraught with economic–financial and political upheavals. He also recalled that the heads of CIS states reconfirmed their commitment to fighting international terrorism and organized crime during a CIS summit held last month in Yerevan.
Meeting with CIS chiefs later in the day–President Robert Kocharian said he hopes they will give a new impetus to their cooperation. Kocharian was quoted by his press office as saying that Armenia has been supporting all efforts aimed at making the CIS stronger and more developed. He described the CIS interior ministers council as one of the most "efficient structures of the CIS."
Also taking part in the two-day meeting is Azerbaijan’s Interior Minister Ramil Usubov. Visits by senior Armenian and Azerbaijani officials to each other’s countries are rare.
Armenia will preside over the council until the next session.