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    CIS DEVELOPMENT REQUIRES INTEGRATION, RUSSIAN MP SAYS

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    MOSCOW, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - Economic development of the Commonwealth of Independent States (a loose alliance of former Soviet republics) will be impossible without their reintegration, Vadim Gustov, Chair of the CIS Committee in the Federation Council, or Russia's upper house of parliament, said at a press conference on the RIA premises Thursday.

    If admitted to the European Union, CIS nations run the risk of becoming mere appendages to more developed EU members, Gustov warned. He cautioned the CIS against going for EU membership not just because Western European economies would then take advantage of its energy, minerals, and other natural reserves, but also because fierce competition inside the Euroland would make it impossible for CIS producers to cooperate between themselves. He cited Il-76 aircraft manufacturing as an example of such cooperation: Il-76 jets are assembled in Uzbekistan from parts 90 percent whereof are made in Russia, Armenia and Ukraine.

    Unfortunately, the CIS fails to meet the goals that it set itself initially and the reintegration of former Soviet republics slows down as a result, he lamented.

    Gustov said it was high time some concrete decisions on the Russia-Belarus Union had been made, noting that the 1999 Union draft agreement was not being implemented. The sides have two options, he said. They can either make a new arrangement or start complying with the existing Union Constitution draft. The relations between the two countries are now in a state of stagnation, and Belarus is beginning to search for alternative partners in Western Europe, the lawmaker remarked.

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