I can assure you that the regional states bordering on each other must have an organization that would allow them to interact and coordinate their political actions, especially given the vast number of problems facing the CIS.
True, the CIS could be much more effective, and the reasons for missing this goal are being discussed now. There is a chance that the CIS would handle only general matters, leaving practical problems with EurAsEC (an economic organization that comprises the Central Asian nations plus Russia and Belarus) and CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization).
Since its establishment in October 2002, the CSTO has become a key factor of regional stability and an efficient element of CIS integration. It is closely cooperating with EurAsEC, because economy is unthinkable without security, or security without economy. There is a practical need for the two organizations to be maximally integrated to mutual benefit.
Acting alongside EurAsEC, the CSTO is tackling migration problems. EurAsEC is mostly concerned with the issues pertaining to labor migrants (accounting, registration procedure, management of migration processes), while the CSTO is dealing with illegal immigration into the CIS.
There are arguments for and against the merger of the two organizations. I think such a new structure would be too big and clumsy, creating problems that would hinder prompt reaction to changes in the situation. On the other hand, their merger would allow us to remove overlapping and cut the staff. I am not ready to say what variant will be more expedient, as all pros and contras should be thoroughly considered.
Everyone recognizes the efficiency of the CSTO, which is gaining a growing respect of other international organizations. In my opinion, no country can rout terrorism or the drug industry acting on its own; this is a task that calls for the concerted efforts of all countries and international structures.
The CSTO maintains contacts with the Regional Anti-terrorist Center of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and today we are coordinating a broad-based protocol of CSTO-SCO cooperation. This is important for us because Central Asian security is one of our key goals. I think our relations with colleagues in the regions are progressing quite well.
Bilateral relations are gaining in strength. Uzbekistan's recent decision to regain CSTO membership will dramatically change the geopolitical lineup of forces in Central Asia and all other post-Soviet countries. As a CSTO member, Uzbekistan will act in coordination with other member states, which should improve the effectiveness of anti-terrorist and anti-extremist operations. By 2008, Uzbekistan should complete an accelerated procedure of joining the nearly 70 international treaties and agreements within the CSTO.
The organization has become a full member of the international security system, whose efficiency largely depends on the ability of member states to undertake coordinated action and harmonize their foreign policies.
We do not want to become a military-political alliance, but a universal international organization that would be able to react promptly and effectively to any threats and challenges.
The CSTO's contacts with NATO have been halted, not at our initiative. We are not dramatizing the situation, because relations with the bloc are not a priority for us. In my opinion, the main goal is to promote cooperation with the UN structures, above all its Counter-Terrorism Committee.
Colonel General Nikolai Bordyuzha (Ret.), graduate of the Perm School of Commanders/Engineers and the Higher Military Counter-Intelligence Course; deputy commander of the Russian Frontier Forces (1992-1998); deputy director, director of the Federal Frontier Service (January-September 1998); Secretary of the Russian Security Council (September 1998 to March 1999) and simultaneously head of the Presidential Administration (from December 1998); Ambassador to Denmark (December 1999 to April 2003); General Secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (from April 2003). He holds orders of Courage and Friendship.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent the opinions of the editorial board.