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Beginning of the expanded format meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of State

September 16, 2016, Bishkek

President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev: Heads of delegations, participants, ladies and gentlemen,

We have gathered here in an expanded format. With the permission of the heads of state, I will start our meeting.

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for visiting us in Kyrgyzstan, and to congratulate all of us on the 25th anniversary of the Commonwealth of Independent States. I would like to thank you for the work you have done in the run-up to this meeting, and for the progress made at the restricted format meeting earlier today.

As you all know, in early September we lost our colleague, a distinguished political leader, President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov. I would like to ask everyone now to honour his memory with a moment of silence.

(A moment of silence.)

Please be seated.

I would also like to note that, on the proposal of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, we, the Heads of State, decided at the restricted format meeting to issue a statement to the brotherly people of Uzbekistan, to call for solidarity, for them to hold their presidential elections in a stable and calm atmosphere, and to continue along the same path of stability that Islam Karimov had led the country.

Colleagues, we have taken on an honourable, and at the same time, very important mission, to chair the CIS during the anniversary year. There has been much debate about CIS reform, the optimisation of the CIS structures. I am very grateful to all the countries, all the delegations that took part in the discussion of all these controversial issues for more than a year, for helping us to actually reach a compromise. Therefore, today, we are ready to sign the documents that map out the path of reform. We are grateful for the fact that we can now take the first steps, which are always the most difficult ones, toward the reform and optimisation of the CIS.

This has been very impressive work, especially on the part of the Foreign Ministries, and certainly the Heads of State. Today the representative of Uzbekistan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, reminded us that part of the text was written by Islam Karimov with his own hand. It was the work of all the Heads of State, their common task.

I would also like to say that today, in the current global situation, which is quite difficult, we absolutely need to support and preserve any platform for large-format dialogue. Without it, no one in this world can survive alone. Only together, only through negotiations and compromise, can we resolve all problems.

I certainly hope that someday the time will come for the boundaries that separated the CIS countries (you know how it happened 25 years ago) will stop serving as partition lines, but will become connecting lines, ones that will unite us all as fraternal and friendly nations. I hope they will, and I think I am not alone. I think that here we will find an optimal balance between each country’s national interests and the integration processes. These processes are unfolding around the world, but the CIS has even greater reason to support them.

Colleagues, I will be brief, for everyone is tired. I am grateful to my colleagues, the Heads of State, who praised the high level of the Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan. Importantly, unlike many international sporting events, the Nomad Games are not politicised. They are devoid of any pretext to exclude anyone, or not allow someone to participate. These games were designed to unite people, not divide them.

Colleagues, the forthcoming 71st UN General Assembly session will adopt the UN resolution on promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue. We propose adding a separate item to this resolution. We would be grateful to all the CIS countries that will support our initiative.

Heads of State, participants of today's meeting, I would like to inform you of the decision that, starting January 1, and in accordance with the documents, the Presidency of the Commonwealth of Independent States will go to the Russian Federation. Mr Putin, according to protocol, I must ask you to confirm that next year you will take over CIS presidency. Will you?

Vladimir Putin: We will be honoured. Thank you very much for entrusting us with it.

Almazbek Atambaev: Then, I would like to congratulate the Russian Federation and the President of the Russian Federation on their upcoming Presidency and, on behalf of the CIS Heads of State, I would like to express our hope that this year will be a pivotal year for the CIS.

Now, I would like to ask the Chairman of the CIS Executive Committee to briefly update us on the decisions adopted by the participants of the restricted format meeting, because, frankly, we have agreed on all issues and decided to sign everything without further discussion. However, for your information, Mr Lebedev will briefly inform us about them.

CIS Executive Committee Chairman Sergei Lebedev: Thank you.

Heads of delegations, participants of the meeting,

During the restricted format meeting, the heads of the delegations approved the agenda and procedures of the meeting. With general consent, the participants of this restricted format meeting have adopted a statement of the Heads of State of CIS member states in connection with the 25th anniversary of the Commonwealth, as well as a decision to adapt the Commonwealth of Independent States to the current realities.

In the course of the discussion of these documents, the state leaders had a candid exchange of views on important issues of the Commonwealth. As Mr Atambaev mentioned, the participants also considered the issue of the Commonwealth of Independent States Presidency in 2017. Upon the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation, it was decided to hold the next meeting of the Council of Heads of State in Moscow on October 11, 2017. With regard to our procedure in an expanded format, it was decided to sign the drafted documents without discussion.

Thank you.

Almazbek Atambayev: I would like to make just two additional remarks. This year, we have another two events within the framework of the CIS. One of them will take place in the Belarusian capital of Minsk and will be chaired by Kyrgyzstan. It is a meeting of the Council of Heads of Government, and in October-November, in Bishkek, we will host the Forum of Creative and Scientific Intellectuals of the Commonwealth States. Thus, our CIS presidency will conclude by the end of the year.

I would like once again to thank the delegation members and the CIS secretary for their great input and propose that we move to the document signing procedure.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Nikolai Doroshenko: Mr President, allow me, on behalf of the Ukrainian delegation, on behalf of Ukraine, to make two remarks on the agenda, in particular on Item 3, regarding the transfer of the presidency to the Russian Federation.

Considering that the Russian Federation has violated norms of international law, has annexed part of Ukrainian territory andis fuelling an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian side does not accept the transfer of this presidency. A corresponding statement will be attached to this item.

And Item 5, regarding the 2020 census. Ukraine will participate in the 2020 census. However, if in the course of the census the Russian Federation takes into account the population living in the Ukrainian territory annexed by the Russian Federation, we will consider the results of the census null and void. I will also attach a corresponding statement to this item.

Thank you.

Almazbek Atambayev: Mr Lebedev, please submit the documents for signing.

Vladimir Putin: May I, Mr Atambayev?

Almazbek Atambayev: Very well, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: I would like to make a brief remark.

First, I would like to say that Russia has not annexed anything. Everything that has happened in Crimea is the result of illegitimate actions by certain political forces in Ukraine who provoked a coup d’état. As for Crimea, it joined Russia based on the expression of the will of the people living in this territory. This action is fully in accord with international law and the UN Charter, as well as with the corresponding decisions of UN courts on similar issues in the practice of the UN international court. That is my first point.

Second, regarding Russia’s CIS presidency. As is known, unfortunately, Ukraine has not signed or ratified the CIS Charter, and so it can hardly lay claim to submitting its proposals regarding the organisation’s working procedure.

Thank you very much.

Almazbek Atambayev: Let us proceed with the signing, Mr Lebedev.

Sergei Lebedev: I request that the signing procedure begin.


September 16, 2016, Bishkek