Discussions about prospects of the CIS, arising in mass-media in the run up to practically every new summit of the Commonwealth, have flared up with a renewed force after the change of ruling elites in some states that are officially members of this organ
There is, in fact, one particular difference in a tonality of reasoning on this topic. If before analytics and journalists focused mainly on the problem of the Commonwealth viability, argued on who would be the first to officially withdraw from not so harmonious lines of the CIS, today they ask how much time has a "patient" left.
It is really difficult to rule out such a scenario for the Commonwealth. It will be really painful, yet it was borne in pain. It is believed, however, that the problem is not so much about illness but the patient himself. My grandfather who had indeed very good health thought flue was the most terrible illness for he contracted it for the first time at the age of 70. Although he could not avoid contracting some other illnesses in the last 20 years of his life, he still regarded flue as the most awful punishment sent down on him by God.
Political structures are not a human body, but they can also get sick. The CIS has had a lot of them over almost 14 years of existence. If before one sought the cause of disease in the "patient" himself, today the infectious component of threats to the Commonwealth is as great as never before. And a geopolitical origin of these infections is no longer a secret to anybody. Care that some leading world powers take of viability of a structure called GUUAM is touching, for it is done in an open and at times cynical manner. One may recall that they made obligatory reservations that this weird organization "did not look" West at all and its role was certainly not that of a grave-digger of the CIS. Today, there are no such reservations, which is symptomatic. However lavish Bush and Putin are of smiles to each other at press conferences, the struggle for influence in the former USSR has greatly escalated. And the Commonwealth will obviously become a litmus paper in the near future, determining a vector of orientation of Russian neighbors.
As is known, the next summit of the CIS is scheduled for May 8. Leaders of the CIS will arrive in Moscow to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Great Victory. The reason for gathering leaves no doubt: a summit will take place. The holiday mood of visitors allows a meeting's host, the Kremlin, to hope that this summit, like all those held in the previous five years, will leave all thorny questions along with the main one about prospects of the CIS open. Coming back to the roots of the Commonwealth's illnesses, we may suddenly find out that they have nothing in common with goals and tasks set at the time of creation of the CIS. Open the charter of this organization. You will not find there words about integration, a free trade zone, supranational structures - all that the most zealous "unifiers" have broke off their teeth on lately.
It will become clear that a man, who is often sided with opponents of the CIS and criticized for torpedoing integration processes, is absolutely right. This is the president of Turkmenistan who made it clear right after the establishment of the Commonwealth that the country he heads considers the CIS a purely consulting body of the former Soviet republics that should build their relations, first of all, on a bilateral basis within the framework of the Commonwealth.
It is not natural for Saparmurat Niyazov to impose his views on fellow-presidents. It is believed, however, that this is the right time for heads of other CIS states to think over these words of the Turkmen leader and look up into the charter of the Commonwealth in new and uneasy circumstances, to read anew its text and, may be, to correct something in view of present realities and to act strictly within the framework of this document in future. For the club of presidents, as they often call the CIS, that provide an opportunity to meet and talk about problems on a regular basis is much more important than continuation of integration games against the background of general disorder.
The presidents have long had to face each other and honestly express their attitude towards the Commonwealth. In this case, it might happen that the present period of uncertainty in the CIS will finish soon.