Commonwealth of Independent States

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Posted by r2d2 03/14/2009 @ 08:07

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While Russia was determined to create a center of power in the Commonwealth of Independent States, the enlarged European Union started paying more attention not only to the "new Eastern Europe" (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine), but also to the South...
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The countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are united by history and people who help in the new market conditions to build new equal relations between the states. The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said today during...
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Russia VSMPO cuts 2008 titanium sales by 7 pct - Reuters
The report, seen by Reuters on Wednesday, said the sales fell on 27.2 percent fewer orders for titanium products from Russian aircraft makers and firms from the Commonwealth of Independent states of the former Soviet Union. But VSMPO managed to raise...
When will Russia re-engage Asia-Pacific? - Jakarta Post
Russia has several first strategic circles of foreign policy, the most immediate of which covers the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), where Russia, in the words of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, has long developed a "privileged partnership"....

Commonwealth of Independent States

Coat of arms of the Commonwealth of Independent States

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (Russian: Содружество Независимых Государств, СНГ, (transliterated Sodruzhestvo Nezavisimykh Gosudarstv, SNG)) is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics.

The CIS is comparable to a confederation similar to the original European Community. Although the CIS has few supranational powers, it is more than a purely symbolic organization, possessing coordinating powers in the realm of trade, finance, lawmaking, and security. It has also promoted cooperation on democratization and cross-border crime prevention. As a regional organization, CIS participates in UN peacekeeping forces. Some of the members of the CIS have established the Eurasian Economic Community with the aim of creating a full-fledged common market. However, other member states have shown greater interest in seeking to join NATO and the European Union.

The organization was founded on 8 December 1991 by Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, when the leaders of the three countries met in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha Natural Reserve, about 50 km (30 miles) north of Brest in Belarus and signed a Creation Agreement (Russian: Соглашение, Soglasheniye) on the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the creation of CIS as a successor entity to the USSR. At the same time they announced that the new alliance would be open to all republics of the former Soviet Union, as well as other nations sharing the same goals. The CIS charter stated that all the members were sovereign and independent nations and thereby effectively abolished the Soviet Union.

On 21 December 1991, the leaders of eight additional former Soviet Republics – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – joined the CIS, thus bringing the number of participating countries to 11. Georgia joined two years later, in December 1993. As of that time, CIS included 12 of the 15 former Soviet Republics. The three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – decided not to join, prefering to pursue membership of the European Union.

The Creation Agreement remained the main constituent document of the CIS until January 1993, when the CIS Charter (Russian: Устав, Ustav) was adopted. The charter formalized the concept of membership: a member country is defined as a country that ratifies the CIS Charter (sec. 2, art. 7). Turkmenistan has not ratified the charter and changed its CIS standing to associate member as of 26 August 2005 in order to be consistent with its UN-recognized international neutrality status. Ukraine, one of the three founding countries that signed and ratified the Creation Agreement in December 1991, has never ratified the CIS Charter and it is thus legally not a member country to this day and currently is considering cutting back its financial input.

Between years of 2003 and 2005, three CIS member states experienced a change of government in a series of colour revolutions: Eduard Shevardnadze was overthrown in Georgia, Viktor Yushchenko was elected in Ukraine, and, lastly, Askar Akayev was toppled in Kyrgyzstan. In February 2006, Georgia officially withdrew from the Council of Defense Ministers, with the statement that "Georgia has taken a course to join NATO and it cannot be part of two military structures simultaneously". In March 2007, Igor Ivanov, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, expressed his doubts concerning the usefulness of CIS, and emphasizing that the Eurasian Economic Community became a more competent organization to unify the biggest countries of the CIS.

The Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC or EAEC) originated from a customs union between Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan on the 29 March 1996. It was named EEC on 10 October 2000 when Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan signed the treaty. EurAsEC was formally created when the treaty was finally ratified by all five member states in May 2001. Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine have the observer status. EurAsEC is working on establishing a common energy market and exploring the more efficient use of water in central Asia.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan formed the OCAC in 1991 as Central Asian Commonwealth (CAC). The organization continued in 1994 as Central Asian Economic Union (CAEU), in which Tajikistan and Turkmenistan did not participate. In 1998 it became Central Asian Economic Cooperation (CAEC), which marked the return of Tajikistan. On February 28, 2002 it was renamed to its current name. Russia joined on May 28, 2004. On October 7, 2005 it was decided between the member states that Uzbekistan will join the Eurasian Economic Community and that the organizations will merge. The organizations joined on 25 January 2006. It is not clear what will happen to the status of current CACO observers that are not observers to EurAsEC (Georgia and Turkey).

After discussion about the creation of a common economic space between the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, agreement in principle about the creation of this space was announced after a meeting in the Moscow suburb of Novo-Ogarevo on 23 February 2003. The Common Economic Space would involve a supranational commission on trade and tariffs that would be based in Kiev, would initially be headed by a representative of Kazakhstan, and would not be subordinate to the governments of the four nations. The ultimate goal would be a regional organisation that would be open for other countries to join as well, and could eventually lead even to a single currency.

On 22 May 2003 The Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) voted 266 votes in favour and 51 against the joint economic space. However, most believe that Viktor Yushchenko's victory in the Ukrainian presidential election of 2004 was a significant blow against the project: Yushchenko has shown renewed interest in Ukrainian membership in the European Union, and such membership would be incompatible with the envisioned common economic space. The creation of a common economic space for Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus may be launched on January 1, 2010.

The data is taken from the UN Statistics Division.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) (Russian: Организация Договора о Коллективной Безопасности) or simply the Tashkent Treaty (Russian: Ташкентский договор) first began as the CIS Collective Security Treaty which was signed on May 15, 1992, by Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, in the city of Tashkent. Azerbaijan signed the treaty on September 24, 1993, Georgia on December 9, 1993 and Belarus on December 31, 1993. The treaty came into effect on April 20, 1994.

The CST was set to last for a 5-year period unless extended. On April 2, 1999, only six members of the CST signed a protocol renewing the treaty for another five year period -- Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan refused to sign and withdrew from the treaty instead. Organization was named CSTO on October 7, 2002 in Chişinău. Nikolai Bordyuzha was appointed secretary general of the new organization. During 2005, the CSTO partners conducted some common military exercises. In 2005, Uzbekistan withdrew from GUAM and on 23 June 2006, Uzbekistan became a full participant in the CSTO and its membership was formally ratified by its parliament on 28 March 2008. The CSTO is an observer organization at the United Nations General Assembly.

The charter reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force. Signatories would not be able to join other military alliances or other groups of states, while aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all. To this end, the CSTO holds yearly military command exercises for the CSTO nations to have an opportunity to improve inter-organization cooperation. The largest-scale CSTO military exercise held to date were the "Rubezh 2008" exercises hosted in Armenia where a combined total of 4,000 troops from all 7 constituent CSTO member countries conducted operative, strategic, and tactical training with an emphasis towards furthering efficiency of the collective security element of the CSTO partnership.

In May 2007 the CSTO secretary-general Nikolai Bordyuzha suggested Iran could join the CSTO saying, "The CSTO is an open organization. If Iran applies in accordance with our charter, we will consider the application." If Iran joined it would be the first state outside the former Soviet Union to become a member of the organization.

On October 6, 2007, CSTO members agreed to a major expansion of the organization that would create a CSTO peacekeeping force that could deploy under a U.N. mandate or without one in its member states. The expansion would also allow all members to purchase Russian weapons at the same price as Russia. CSTO signed an agreement with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, to broaden cooperation on issues such as security, crime, and drug trafficking.

On August 29, 2008, Russia announced it would seek CSTO recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Three days before, on August 26, Russia recognized the independence of Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On September 5, 2008, Armenia assumed the rotating CSTO presidency during a CSTO meeting in Moscow, Russia.

The CIS Election Monitoring Organization (Russian: Миссия наблюдателей от СНГ на выборах) is an election monitoring body that was formed in October 2002, following a Commonwealth of Independent States heads of states meeting which adopted the Convention on the Standards of Democratic Elections, Electoral Rights, and Freedoms in the Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The CIS-EMO has been sending election observers to member countries of the CIS since this time.

The Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, established in March 1995, is a consultative parliamentary wing of the CIS created to discuss problems of parliamentary cooperation. The Assembly will hold its 32nd Plenary meeting in Saint Petersburg on 14 May 2009.

Russia has been urging for the Russian language to receive official status in all of the CIS member states. So far Russian is an official language in four of these states: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Russian is also considered an official language in the region of Transnistria, as well as the semi-autonomous region of Gagauzia in Moldova. Viktor Yanukovych, the Moscow-supported presidential candidate in the controversial Ukrainian presidential election, 2004, declared his intention to make Russian an official second language of Ukraine. However, Viktor Yushchenko, the winner, did not do so as he was more closely aligned with the Ukrainian-speaking population.

During the 1992 Olympic Games (in Albertville and Barcelona), athletes from the CIS member states competed as the Unified Team for the last time. In other sports events in that year, such as the European Championships in football, athletes took part as representatives of the CIS. Since then, the member states have competed under their national banners.

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Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States


TACIS is an abbreviation of "Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States" programme, a foreign and technical assistance programme implemented by the European Commission to help members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (as well as Mongolia), in their transition to democratic market-oriented economies. TACIS is now subsumed in the EuropeAid programme.

Launched by the EC in 1991, the Tacis Programme provides grant-financed technical assistance to 12 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan). Mongolia was also covered by the Tacis programme from 1991 to 2003, but is now covered by the ALA Programme.

From the 2007-2013 EU Financial Perspective, the Tacis Programme has been replaced for the countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy and Russia by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. However Tacis projects programmed from 2006 will continue to operate until the end of the decade.

The European Union remains the single largest donor of foreign assistance in the world. As of 2006, most EU aid is now un-tied.

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Commonwealth of Independent States Cup 1996

The 1996 Commonwealth of Independent States Cup was won by Dynamo Kyiv in their first participation in the competition, while Omari Tetradze (Alania Vladikavkaz) was honoured with the Best player award. The two top teams of each group progressed through the first stage, a quarter-final round being played for the first time.

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Commonwealth of Independent States Cup 2009

The XVII Commonwealth of Independent States Cup is to take place in Moscow beginning January 17, 2009.

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Commonwealth of Independent States Cup 2008

The XVI Commonwealth of Independent States Cup is to take place in Saint Petersburg beginning January 19, 2008.

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Economic Court of the Commonwealth of Independent States

The Economic Court of the Commonwealth of Independent States operates for the purposes of fulfilling economic obligations under the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The mandate of the Economic Court includes the resolution of disputes arising during the implementation of economic obligations. The Court may also resolve other disputes classified as within its mandate by agreements of member states. The Economic Court has the right to interpret provisions of agreements and other acts of the Commonwealth for economic issues. The Economic Court carries out its activity in accordance with an Agreement on the Status of the Economic Court and a Statute thereon, approved by the Council of Heads of States. The location of the Economic Court is the city of Minsk, Republic of Belarus.

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Commonwealth of Independent States Cup 1994

The second edition of the Commonwealth of Independent States Cup was won by Spartak Moscow. Dynamo Moscow played hors-concours since Ukraine boycotted once again the competition.

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Aliyah from the Commonwealth of Independent States in the 1990s


The big immigration wave of Jews from the Commonwealth of Independent States to Israel during the 1990s actually started during the late 1980s with the opening of the USSR's borders under the liberal government of Mikhail Gorbachev. The immigration rate was not uniform at the start, and most of the immigrants actually arrived in the early 1990s.

The departure of each individual citizen of the USSR was conditioned on the approval of the KGB. Many who sought those approvals were denied. Those who tried to escape the USSR and did not succeed were considered traitors, were fired from their jobs, and became targets of hatred by the public. The civilians of the USSR who did receive approval to emigrate were forced to cede their Soviet nationality and to pay money in order to do that. Under the Communist regime, real estate assets such as apartments usually belonged to the state, and emigrants were forced to cede those assets in the majority of cases. After the establishment of democracy in Russia and in other former Soviet republics, those laws were canceled and emigrants who left after the fall of the communism were able to keep their citizenship and their assets.

Unlike the prime immigration waves, and similar to the fifth immigration wave, Zionism was not the chief motive which brought most of the immigrants to Israel. Instead, the reasons were mainly economic and political, and, to a lesser extent, a fear for personal security.

The reason that many Jews chose to immigrate to Israel is that the United States closed its gates to the Soviet Jews at the start of 1990, while Israel was willing to receive them unconditionally. The United States initiated this as a result of pressure from the Israeli government. Until the closing of the gates, during the 1980s about 200,000 Jews immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union.

The abruptness and extensiveness of this immigration wave brought about an immediate severe shortage of housing in Israel, in the Gush Dan area in particular, and a corresponding drastic rise in the prices of residential apartments. As a result, Ariel Sharon, then Israel's Minister for Housing Construction, initiated several programs to encourage the construction of new residential buildings, which partly included the concession of different planning procedures. When those resources were inadequate to the growing immigration wave, and many immigrants remained lacking a roof, within two years about 430 caravan sites were set up across Israel, comprising 27,000 caravans. The largest caravan site was founded in Beersheba, consisting of 2,308 housing units.

After that period, the immigrants dissipated throughout Israel. But this immigration wave exhibited a phenomenon common to previous Israeli immigration waves: the efforts of the state to transfer the immigrants to the periphery primarily affected immigrants of lower socio-economic status, while those from higher socio-economic levels, who had the resources to resist these efforts, moved to residential areas of their own choice instead, mostly in Gush Dan. (Additional cities to which many of the immigrants moved (willingly and unwillingly) were Haifa and the HaKerayot urban area, Petah Tikva, Ariel and Ashdod.) Thus the immigration wave had a clear ethnic aspect: while the majority of the immigrants originating from the European areas of the Commonwealth of Independent States moved to the center of Israel, most of the immigrants who moved to the periphery were inhabitants of the Islamic republics and the former Caucasus.

The absorption laws changed with time. The basic government grants given to each immigrant changed rapidly from the late 1980s to the late 1990s. Most of the immigrants initially located on the periphery and later dispersed to the "Russian" neighborhoods. There were cities, mainly in the medium and lower socio-economic levels, in which immigrants constituted over 50% of all the residents.

Many of the immigrants integrated into the Israeli labor market, but the majority remained confined inside their own communities. The closed nature of this immigration wave may have been due to its large size, which resulted in neighborhoods of at times tens of thousands of people, as well as the failure of many immigrants to adapt to the receiving society and the expectancy from the society itself to change in order to absorb them.

Many of the new immigrants found that their former education was not recognized by many Israeli employers, though it was recognized by institutions of higher education. Many had to work in jobs which did not match their expertise, in contrast with Soviets who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s.

Some of the immigrants chose to stick to the strategy of dissimilation, keeping the originating culture and rejecting the absorbing culture. Other groups of immigrants (the political leadership and younger people) chose to stick with the strategy of intertwining, involving themselves in the surrounding culture while conserving their original culture. These strategic choices were different from these of the previous immigration waves, which commonly chose either to assimilate, rejecting the originating culture and welcoming the absorbing culture, or to intertwine.

The lack of willingness to integrate in the society and the demand to gain political power which would comply with their unique needs caused a growth of "Russian parties" - in which the party "Yisrael BaAliyah" gained most popularity in the leadership of Natan Sharansky. The party gained a great success in the elections of 1996 and received 7 mandates. In the elections of 1999 its power descended by one mandate whereas in the elections of 2003 it only gained two mandates and was integrated into the Likud party. Many see the fall of the party of the immigrants as a positive sign to the intertwining in the Israeli society and to the fact that they do not need their own party anymore. The founder and leader of the "Yisrael BaAliyah" party, Natan Sharansky, said after the elections that the reason to the fall of his party was actually in its success to obtain its objectives of intertwining the immigrants in the Israeli society.

From against, the politician Avigdor Lieberman established the party "Yisrael Beiteinu" (Israel is our home), as a competitor of "Yisrael BaAliyah". Yisrael Beiteinu focused on the national issues and took a hard line towards Israeli Arabs and Palestinians based upon the view that they do not support the right of Jews to maintain a Jewish state in the Middle East. This party gained a relative success in the elections of 1999, in which they won four mandates and later united with the right wing party "The National Union" which gained 7 mandates in the 15th Knesset and in the 16th Knesset.

During the 1990s the voting of the immigrants in the elections was confronted, in that it was always against the present authority. In reality, the immigrants had a considerable part in the falls of the governments of Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. With the start of the Second Intifada, a big part of the soviet immigrants tended towards the right-wing of the political spectrum in their opinions concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict and held hawkish positions in the issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Counter-terrorism. Although most of the soviet immigrants supported the liberal polices in the subjects of religion and state, because this immigration wave was secular in its majority, they avoided support the Israeli left-wing parties which consisted of similar positions, as a result of their compromising positions in regard of the Palestinians and their identification of left-wing with the soviet communism. So, for example, the elections propaganda for Ehud Barak based on a distribution of Russian book which described him as a war hero of Israel. Many political commentators claimed after the elections, that this book had a decisive effect in the victory of Barak in the elections. Likewise, also the big sympathy of soviet immigrants to Ariel Sharon was in his extravagant militaristic record and in his aggressive image.

The gap between the right-wing positions of the majority of this public as opposed to its anti-religious positions was filled by the Shinui party, a secular party and significant Anti-orthodox party, which gained a great popularity amongst the soviet immigrants public, in spite of its left-wing tendency the Shinui party was not identified with the left.

In the elections of 2006 the "Yisrael Beiteinu" parted from the "National Union" party. The logic that stood behind this decision was that in spite of the similarities between the positions of "Yisrael Beiteinu" and "National Union" party, the two parties have two separate target audiences: while "Yisrael Beiteinu" turns mainly to the is a Russian voters and to the right-wings seculars, the "National Union" party turns mainly to the religious national public and to the public of the settlers. This assumption became clear after "Yisrael Beiteinu" gained alone 11 mandates and became the second largest right-winged party after the Likud, which received only 12 mandates, while most of the mandates it received arrived of course from the target audience of the party - the immigrants from the Russian Federation.

The weakening of the Zionist ethos and disappearance of the melting pot perception brought more tolerance from the Israeli society to the attempts of the Russian immigrants to preserve their culture. In tandem, many of the immigrants saw themselves as delegates of the Russian culture, and to them it was superior to the levantine Israeli culture. These parallel trends, combined with the separate immigrant neighborhoods, helped create a distinct Russian-Israeli culture.

This culture is characterized to a great extent by the combination of characteristic elements from the Soviet Union and Israel. This mixture created a new secular culture which speaks both Hebrew and Russian which puts a great emphasis between higher culture and lower culture in the fields of literature, music, theater, etc.

Also, due to the demand in of the new immigrants, many Russian language newspapers appeared, and with the development of the multichannel television in Israel during the 1990s, many Russian channels started being rebroadcast in Israel. And in November 2002, a new Israeli-Russian channel, Israel Plus, emerged.

The secular character of this immigration wave and their attempts to preserve their eating habits caused in the mid-1990s the opening of stores selling merchandise which was prevalent in the USSR, notably non-kosher meat such as pork. Even though the sale of pork is allowed in Israel, and there are even pig farms in kibbutz Mizra, the marketing of the meat in cities with a high rate of religious or traditional residents constituted as a contravention of the secular-religious status quo in Israel, and caused many confrontations. In most of the cases, the different sides reached a compromise and the pork stores were moved to the industrial regions of the cities.

In addition to the Russian Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrahi groups such as the Mountain Jews, Georgian Jews, and Bukharian Jews also immigrated in great numbers to Israel during the collapse of the USSR. They were more traditional and brought their culture, food, and music to Israel.

The immigrants succeeded to integrate successfully in the Israeli economy and in the different branches of the economy, and they are characterized as having a higher rate of participation in the work market. The Israeli high tech field went through a small revolution with inculcation of several technological greenhouses which were originally set up in order to provide employment for the thousands of the scientists and the engineers which came through this immigration wave. A big part of the construction branch in Israel is manned by civilian engineers exiters of the Russian Federation, as a result of the great emphasis which the Ussr had given to the industrial urban development in the 1960s and the 1970s which emphasized the honorability in the field.

A study conducted in 1995, which checked the wage level of the literate immigrants (16 years of education and above) in comparison to the level of the wage of the Israeli-borns with the same level of education, showed that the wage level of the immigrants is rising in the relation to the wage of the Israeli-borns. The wage of a new immigrant in his first year in the country stands on 40% from the wage of an Israeli-born, while the wage of an immigrant which lived in Israel for 6 years would arrive at about 70% from the wage of an Israeli-born. Amongst the age group of 22-40, which has 16 years of education and above, the gap between the immigrants and the Israeli-borns is close, and after 6 years there even seemed to be a gap of about 6% in favor of the immigrants.

According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics about 1/3 of the 1990s immigrants got their former education recognized in Israel as higher education. But less than half of the literate population of workers works in the field of their expertise.

At first the reaction of the Israeli society to the Jewish Soviet Union immigration wave was very positive, and the common phrase "with every immigrant, our strength rises" was used amongst the locals. This positive attitude changed with the time as a result of fears in parts of the Israeli society to the effects the massive immigration wave would have on the Israeli society. The two central reasons for the fear which were related to this immigration wave were the fear of the high percent of non-Jews amongst the immigrants, and the apprehension that the new immigrants would take away the workplaces from the veteran population.

Another additional reason for negative attitudes is connected to the general characteristic of a migratory society, the inhospitable attitude of the veteran group towards the population of immigrants. In this respect, negative stereotypical rumors started to spread about the new immigrants. This inhospitable attitude intensified also because -- in contrast with the previous immigration waves to Israel -- many of the immigrants from this wave kept their culture and language, without trying to blend their customs with their new lives in Israel. Much of the criticism towards this wave was related to their cultural distinction, which included many negative stereotypes regarding Israeli society.

Still, many immigrants succeeded in blending into Israeli society in different fields, and contribute greatly to Israel.

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Source : Wikipedia