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Europe

Medvedev Urges EU-style Cooperation at Ex-Soviet Summit

A meeting of ex-Soviet states was finalized in Kyrgyzstan on Friday as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev assailed critics of Russia's pullout from Georgia and endorsed an expanded G8 summit to include developing nations.

The CIS logo

Greater unity between CIS nations was urged to battle the financial crisis

Medvedev also used the two-day summit to argue for an EU-style platform of cooperation within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), whose members are all ex-USSR satellites.

"Considering the crisis the international financial system is going through, it's necessary to take really effective measures to protect markets and ensure their future stability," Medvedev said Thursday, praising the example of European Union cooperation in the face of financial crisis.

"We need such coordination if we want to stay competitive and overcome the consequences of the financial crisis with minimal losses," he told journalists alongside the summit host, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

The nine presidents to attend the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) meeting jointly called for common economic goals among members and cooperation in combating drug trafficking.

But the summit raised more questions about the group's relevance than it answered, with high levels of presidential absenteeism at the closing news conference.

Presidents in attendance throughout the summit included those of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Georgia formally withdrew from the CIS after it was invaded by Russia in August. Also absent were Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, an ally of Georgia, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, whose country's oil exports were disrupted by the war.

Georgia

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili pulled Georgia out of the CIS in August

The absence of the three West-oriented leaders highlighted what Russian newspapers referred to as a weakening Kremlin grip on its former sphere of influence, made worse by August's Caucasus war in which Russian troops surged into Georgia in aid of two rebel regions there -- South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which the Kremlin went on to recognize as independent states.

At the post-summit press conference, Medvedev told reports that Russia was fully complying with an EU-brokered ceasefire to the conflict that called for a return of military personnel to pre-war positions.

"Everything that depended on us we've done. All the obligations we undertook... we have fulfilled," he said.

But Georgia's Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili said Friday that Russia had not fully respected the terms of the ceasefire and warned against a return to normal relations with Moscow.

Financial crisis

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia has complied with the Georgia ceasefire

Seizing on uncertainty over the global financial crisis, Medvedev went on to back calls by Japan for an emergency G8 summit to discuss the world's ailing financial condition.

The Russian leader insisted, however, that emerging nations be included in the talks.

"It's necessary to include other key economies that define the financial climate in the world -- China, India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa," he said.

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