Monday, April 24, 2006

The Minsk Agreement Signed By The Heads Of State Of Belarus, The Russian Federation, And Ukraine On December 8, 1991

We, the Republic of Belarus, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Ukraine, as founder states of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which signed the 1922 Union Treaty, further described as the high contracting parties, conclude that the USSR has ceased to exist as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality.

Taking as our basis the historic community of our peoples and the ties which have been established between them, taking into account the bilateral treaties concluded between the high contracting parties;

striving to build democratic law-governed states; intending to develop our relations on the basis of mutual recognition and respect for state sovereignty, the inalienable right to self- determination, the principles of equality and non-interference in internal affairs, repudiation of the use of force and of economic or any other methods of coercion, settlement of contentious problems by means of mediation and other generally recognized principles and norms of international law;

considering that further development and strengthening of relations of friendship, good-neighborliness and mutually beneficial co-operation between our states correspond to the vital national interests of their peoples and serve the cause of peace and security;

confirming our adherence to the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and other documents of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe;

and committing ourselves to observe the generally recognized internal norms on human rights and the rights of peoples, we have agreed the following:

The high contracting parties form the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The high contracting parties guarantee their citizens equal rights and freedoms regardless of nationality or other distinctions. Each of the high contracting parties guarantees the citizens of the other parties, and also persons without citizenship that live on its territory, civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights and freedoms in accordance with generally recognized international norms of human rights, regardless of national allegiance or other distinctions.

The high contracting parties, desiring to promote the expression, preservation and development of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious individuality of the national minorities resident on their territories, and that of the unique ethno- cultural regions that have come into being, take them under their protection.

The high contracting parties will develop the equal and mutually beneficial co-operation of their peoples and states in the spheres of politics, the economy, culture, education, public health, protection of the environment, science and trade and in the humanitarian and other spheres, will promote the broad exchange of information and will conscientiously and unconditionally observe reciprocal obligations.

The parties consider it a necessity to conclude agreements on co-operation in the above spheres.

The high contracting parties recognize and respect one another's territorial integrity and the inviolability of existing borders within the Commonwealth.

They guarantee openness of borders, freedom of movement for citizens and of transmission of information within the Commonwealth.

The member-states of the Commonwealth will co-operate in safeguarding international peace and security and in implementing effective measures for reducing weapons and military spending. They seek the elimination of all nuclear weapons and universal total disarmament under strict international control.

The parties will respect one another's aspiration to attain the status of a non-nuclear zone and a neutral state.

The member-states of the community will preserve and maintain under united command a common military-strategic space, including unified control over nuclear weapons, the procedure for implementing which is regulated by a special agreement.

They also jointly guarantee the necessary conditions for the stationing and functioning of and for material and social provision for the strategic armed forces. The parties contract to pursue a harmonized policy on questions of social protection and pension provision for members of the services and their families.

The high contracting parties recognize that within the sphere of their activities, implemented on the equal basis through the common coordinating institutions of the Commonwealth, will be the following:

co-operation in the sphere of foreign policy;
co-operation in forming and developing the united economic area, the common European and Eurasian markets, in the area of customs policy;
co-operation in developing transport and communication systems;
co-operation in preservation of the environment, and participation in creating a comprehensive international system of ecological safety;
migration policy issues;
and fighting organized crime.

The parties realize the planetary character of the Chernobyl catastrophe and pledge themselves to unite and co-ordinate their efforts in minimizing and overcoming its consequences.

To these ends they have decided to conclude a special agreement which will take consider [sic] the gravity of the consequences of this catastrophe.

The disputes regarding interpretation and application of the norms of this agreement are to be solved by way of negotiations between the appropriate bodies, and when necessary, at the level of heads of the governments and states.

Each of the high contracting parties reserved the right to suspend the validity of the present agreement or individual articles thereof, after informing the parties to the agreement of this a year in advance.

The clauses of the present agreement may be addended to or amended with the common consent of the high contracting parties.

From the moment that the present agreement is signed, the norms of third states, including the former USSR, are not permitted to be implemented on the territories of the signatory states.

The high contracting parties guarantee the fulfillment of the international obligations binding upon them from the treaties and agreements of the former USSR.

The present agreement does not affect the obligations of the high contracting parties in regard to third states.

The present agreement is open for all member-states of the former USSR to join, and also for other states which share the goals and principles of the present agreement.

The city of Minsk is the official location of the coordinating bodies of the Commonwealth.

The activities of bodies of the former USSR are discontinued on the territories of the member-states of the Commonwealth.


Source: Library of Congress Country Studies Belarus

Library of Congress Call Number DK507.23 .B45 1995


Minsk History
Ancient Minsk

... "In prehistoric times the "domain of the bear" predominated over "the domain of the goose" (as Napoleon soldiers aptly dubbed the forest-lands and meadow-lands of the area) with vast and impenetrable primeval forests covering most of the country and serving as a Delphic "wooden wall" to its successive inhabitants against attacks from the East. Scattered Lithuanians and Jatvyhs hunted and gathered, until merged with the more advanced Slavonic tribes moving northwards from the Carpathians during the so-called Dark Ages. These settled the area forming the watershed of the rivers flowing to the Baltic and the Black Sea, where the early Belarusians founded prosperous townships of Polacak, Viciebsk, Smalensk, Minsk, and Harodnia. Of these Polacak, first mentioned in the chronicles for 862, was to become the most important.

During the era of Viking expansion along the East European waterways, many towns and principalities were ruled over by Scandinavian warlords; in the 9th century the lands of Polacak were raided by two Viking princes Askold and Dir, and by the 10th century a Prince Ravhalod(Norse: Ragnvald) reigned over the Belarusian principality of which early Minsk formed part. The Belarusian nobility to this day distinguishes between families of old Lithuanian and those of Scandinavian descent (Hedymoviczy and Rurikoviczy)." cities/minsk_DZ/mh_1.html


Minsk History:
Minsk under Russian Rule

"The Russian Governors' first steps were to restrict the Belarusian Greek-Catholic Church; the Basilian Convents in the Upper Town and in Trinity suburb were closed in 1795, and the Holy Ghost Church handed over to the Russian Orthodox hierarchy, who in 1796 renamed it after the apostles SS. Peter and Paul. The former Belarusian Orthodox Church with this name was reconsecrated to St. Catherine, thus commemorating the partners of the two sovereigns who had established Russian rule over the city. Plans were drawn up for impoving the city amenities; public gardens were laid out by the river Svislacz, which were named the Governor's Gardens, and the architect Todar Kramer was commissioned to remodel the City Guildhall, the Vice-governor's residence(1800), the Basilian monastery, now a school for children of the gentry(1799), the Merchants' Exchange(1800), the Jesuit college and the Holy Trinity convent in the Trinity suburb(1799) and other buildings. These reconstructions were done to neutral neo-classical designs of West European municipial arcitecture, which left little room for national particularism."

Aerial view of the rivers of Belarus; with location of Minsk, Belarus highlighted.
[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: University of Lille, France. With thanks. photons/sites.html


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