Partial withdrawal from CIS agreements: Reasons and effects. IPN debate

Recently, the Moldovan authorities have announced their intention to withdraw the Republic of Moldova from a series of the agreements signed within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Despite particular expectations based on the somehow tense situation in Moldovan society, this information didn’t generate intense discussions, at least compared with the decision to amend the linguistic legislation, the attitude to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the recent antigovernment protests. The experts invited to IPNs public debate “Partial withdrawal from CIS agreements: Reasons and effects” considered if this is the final reaction of society or the attitude to this issue can yet change and what can be done in both of the cases.

Igor Boțan, the permanent expert of the project, said that the CIS is an international organization constituted to regulate the relations of cooperation between the states that earlier formed part of the USSR. However, the CIS is not a supranational entity and works on a volunteer basis, by the consent of its members. The CIS was founded by the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine by signing the agreement on the establishment of the Union of Sovereign States at the Belovezhskaya Pushcha residence on December 7-8, 1991. Later, this was changed into the agreement on the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

After the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, the founders of this announced that the dismembered USSR would be substituted by the Commonwealth of Independent States and not as a structured entity with the vertical of power, but as a benevolent union of sovereign and independent states. “The CIS statutes, as the constitution of the Soviet Union, regulate the withdrawal of a member from the Commonwealth. To do this, each state that wants to withdraw needs to file an application, a notification and all the relations need to be regulated during 12 months for the state to leave this community,” explained the expert.

Igor Boțan reminded of the announcement made by Deputy Prime Minister Nicu Popescu on November 30, 2022, of the suspension of Moldova’s participation in the CIS meetings. Later, in February 2023, he announced that Moldova decided to withdraw from a series of agreements signed within the CIS. Moldova didn’t announce its withdrawal from the CIS. It just decided to withdraw from a series of agreements that are no longer valid. For example, Georgia left the CIS in 2008 following the known developments in this country. Also, Ukraine decided to abandon the CIS after the events that happened in Crimea in 2014. “The withdrawal of Ukraine lasted for several years. In the case of Georgia, the process lasted for a year,” stated the expert.

MP of the Party of Action and Solidarity Vitali Gavrouc said that Moldova’s accession to the CIS was a natural move in the process of transition. After the fall of the USSR, there were no other options and Moldova’s relations with Russia and with other former Soviet republics were rather tense. “Regardless of the current political views, I think it was a unique opportunity to ensure an easy transition to the wanted independence – a real one. Respectively, the states that considered it necessary to maintain these traditions acted so and their decisions were based also on issues related to the economy, agriculture, etc.” stated the MP.

Vitali Gavrouc noted that not all the states of the USSR joined the CIS. For example, the Baltic states didn’t make such a move. Also, Georgia and Ukraine had reduced participation and later withdrew from this community after the known events.

According to him, the opportunity cannot be denied as at that moment Moldova’s improving relations with Romania could not be structured into a more complex union as the current European Unpin and it was not even the case. “As politicians, we didn’t have the task of commenting on historic moments as the then opportunity of the presence of the Republic of Moldova in the CIS is now more than a historic moment,” said the PAS MP.

MP of the Bloc of Communists and Socialists Adrian Lebedinschi said that the Commonwealth of Independent States needed to be established, primarily as a body for maintaining the economic and social relation. Also, many families were mixt ones and included citizens of different former Soviet states. Their circulation had to be ensured.

“The agreements that were signed at the start, in 1992 and 1993, showed that they were aimed at maintaining the economic relations, for ensuring particular benefits for business entities when crossing the borders, which were then formal yet. But it was later proven that the CIS states had been yet basic economic partners until recently,” noted the MP.

According to him, two thirds of the exports until 2014 went to the CIS states. The situation is now different. “In 2022, exports to the CIS states totaled about 3 billion. That’s why for us this is a necessary market at present,” said Adrian Lebedinschi.

The public debate entitled “Partial withdrawal from CIS agreements: Reasons and effects” was the 276th installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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