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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Summit To Boost Integration

Leaders of the 12 members of the Commonwealth of Independent States were arriving in Moscow on Thursday ahead of Friday's one-day summit as their defense and foreign ministers met to prepare the ground.

Russia is hoping to win support at the summit, the 16th of its kind since the CIS was created in 1991, for its guidelines on long-term integration. Meanwhile a Eurasian Union, the alternative put forward by President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, is also on the agenda, despite Russia's cool reception of the idea earlier this year.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin said this week there was a "clear awareness among all the CIS countries of the need for closer economic and political cooperation and further integration."

If so, this was not apparent Thursday, when President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan warned against proposals that risk returning to the "old empire."

Speaking at the Turkic summit in Istanbul, attended by his Central Asian neighbours and Azerbaijan, Karimov said calls for "unions and confederations smacked of imperial ambitions and of a return to the previous system," Interfax reported.

Russia is placing particular emphasis on the establishment of an international economic committee or union which would be the first CIS body with supranational powers. Defense ministers from CIS states met Thursday to discuss collective peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia and Tajikistan, the mandate for which is due for renewal at the end of the year.