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Kazakhstan: President Drops 'Eurasian Union' Idea For Now

Almaty, 31 December 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev says his earlier proposal to forge a so-called "Eurasian Union" from the former Soviet states is unfeasible, at least for now.

Speaking to reporters in the capital, Almaty, yesterday, Nazarbayev announced new integration standards for countries of the CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States. He said only those states that are close to each other in both political and economic terms should consider uniting.

Nazarbayev called yesterday's news conference to mark the fifth anniversary of the CIS. He said the CIS's main achievement is that no nuclear threat exists and that nuclear materials are protected from embezzlement.

In other matters, Nazarbayev said he wants to place state controls on vodka production to curb smuggling. He said up to 50 percent of wines and spirits for sale in Kazakhstan are contraband. But he said state controls do not mean vodka producers will face nationalization. Russian President Boris Yeltsin ordered similar measures last week.

Nazarbayev also spoke of various oil-related issues. He said he had recently discussed with Yeltsin a new oil pipeline from the Tengiz oil field to Russia's Black Sea shore. And he said he has been holding talks with a company concerning the construction of a new oil pipeline between western Kazakhstan and western China. He declined to name the company.