17:51 GMT +319 February 2019
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    Russian Upper house speaker: Polish CIS, don't change it

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    MOSCOW, October 11 (RIA Novosti) - CIS member Russia is taking on the organization's critics - some of them from within - and saying that the group that comprises the former Soviet Union's republics simply needs a tune up, but no sweeping changes.

    "There is no need to drastically reform the CIS, which has stepped up activities dramatically lately," Sergei Mironov, Chairman of the Russian upper house of parliament, said Tuesday.

    Mironov said relations with CIS countries were a top priority for Moscow.

    "They are our neighbors and most of them are our genuine friends, whereas people [in those republics] are all friends to each other without exception," Mironov said.

    Speaking at a conference in Kazakhstan Tuesday, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev said the Central Asian republic was enthusiastic about the CIS' future.

    "Kazakhstan is optimistic about the CIS' future, although recent trends in society are rather alarming as they signal the decline of this important organization," Tokayev said. "The CIS as a major regional organization has a bright outlook, given the Commonwealth undergoes appropriate reforms."

    He said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed a drastic CIS reform at the September 2004 summit in Astana.

    "Our partners are studying the proposals and we hope we will reach mutually beneficial agreements on this crucial issue by year's end," he said.

    Tokayev also mentioned the Eurasian Economic Community, a regional economic organization, which had enlarged recently to include Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan's joining the EurAsEC makes Central Asian integration a very attainable goal, he said.

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