The latest summit of the CIS countries in some way demonstrated the renaissance of this organisation, since the conflicting claims of the post-Soviet states have, with time and the acquisition of new experience, increasingly given way to pragmatic economic cooperation and a more balanced foreign policy dialogue, believes Gulnara Mammadzadeh, Deputy Director General of Trend News Agency and Vice President of the Baku Network Expert Council.
As time has shown, all previously-voiced forecasts of the decline or even the demise of the CIS have turned out to be mistaken. Moreover, in the context of a new world order taking shape, the experience of survival, development and maintaining stability is quite complicated; external and internal risks are growing. Accordingly, the CIS states stand to benefit from their shared experiences and points of reference, and from the direct participation in the group of a growing Russia.
Countries such as Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and others are involved in transnational projects and can project the opportunities they have developed to their partners in this sphere of mutual interests, strengthening each other and expanding communication with the outside world.
Thus, the CIS remains the backbone of regional integration and can serve as a cornerstone for new supranational organisations, including the EAEU. Commonwealth members benefit from understandable and mutually beneficial economic cooperation. The steps that are needed are being taken right now, including the reanimation of free economic zones, the removal or simplification of customs and visa barriers, the streamlining of foreign exchange market transactions, etc. The more specific and effective mechanisms are the result of interaction at the CIS level, underscoring the usefulness and long-term nature of the forum.
Such terms as “trade wars” and economic sanctions directly affect big countries, particularly China, Russia, Iran, and indirectly increase potential risks for everyone else. It’s also worth remembering how the economies of countries where hydrocarbon sales dominate exports suffered when the oil price fell and the dollar increased.
This underscores the need for anticipatory action and protective mechanisms. This whole process of building a stable economic foundation amid modern conditions involves acquiring strategic vision, and is achieved through the joint effort of countries that are connected, in many respects, through their similar economic problems.
One such mechanism is the long-term establishment in the CIS of a single financial market, which, according to the President of the Russian Federation, “would benefit the competitiveness of the countries included in this association.” According to Putin, “We must protect ourselves against currency risks.”
In addition, the Commonwealth’s Declaration on Strategic Economic Cooperation has been adapted to new realities; the former contractual framework of the CIS is outdated, and to some extend was not usefully implemented. Relying on outdated regulatory documents that fail to reflect new trends and conditions is counterproductive; therefore it is absolutely right to work in line with the new Strategic Concept, taking into account both technical innovations and political transformations.
Russia-Turkmenistan: increasing cooperation
In one way or another, the fuel and energy complex remains one of the basic elements of Russo-Turkmen cooperation, as well as the interaction of the parties in building the “transport framework” of Eurasia.
It is important to note that after the signing of the Caspian Convention in August 2018, Turkmenistan markedly and consistently increased its diplomatic activity, including its dealings with the West. For example, Ashgabat worked to attract partners and investment for the implementation of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, negotiated with the United States to participate in projects to build modern infrastructure in Turkmenistan in connection with the country’s participation in the creation of inter-regional transport and transit corridors along the East-West and South-North lines, intended to facilitate access to Asian, European and Middle Eastern markets. Ashgabat, together with Romania, was slated to take part in the Caspian Sea – Black Sea international transport corridor and others.
But the situational agenda is uncertain and changes constantly; it is becoming obvious that the implementation of all these ambitious projects slated to include Turkmenistan faces serious risks in the context of regional security, including problems associated with proximity of restive Afghanistan. Only Russia, with its growing potential and influence, including in the Middle East and East Asia, can provide Ashgabat with certain guarantees of security and stability, as well as ensure the presence of Turkmenistan in international forums and in regional projects involving Russia.
In principle, Russia and Turkmenistan jointly work in the International Business Cooperation Council of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Countries of the Caspian Region: “Business Caspian.” Turkmenistan supports resolutions barring countries which don’t border the Caspian Sea from maintaining a naval presence there, and is active in building the tourism potential of the Caspian region together with Russia and other Caspian countries. Ashgabat was invited to negotiations between Moscow and Delhi on the creation of the Russia-Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman-India corridor, and has participated in other joint projects involving the Russian Federation.Moscow and Ashgabat have many common interests, including the Caspian Sea and the CIS (this year Turkmenistan is Chairman of the Commonwealth) and even took the initiative to sign the Declaration on Strategic Economic Cooperation of the CIS countries.