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The CIS without Georgia

Thursday, October 30
Georgia is leaving the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a “stillborn baby” created by Russia to defray the effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union through artificial amalgamation.

On August 12 Saakashvili promised the Georgian people that the country would withdraw. On August 18 the Georgian Parliament adopted the decision and on August 20 the CIS executive body confirmed that it had received the official note from Georgia stating it had left the organization. Russia, as the leader of the organization, acts as if it does not care for Georgia’s presence in it, however the withdrawal of Georgia is a bad sign for this rather eclectic and ungrounded union.

At the last summit held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, two more CIS leaders, those of Ukraine and Azerbaijan, were absent. Georgian President Saakashvili did not of course attend. President Medvedev of Russia gave excuses for the absences of Aliev and Yushchenko, saying that Azerbaijan was preparing for elections and Ukraine was in the midst of a political crisis.

Medvedev stated that he was not idealizing the CIS, but that it is the arena where post-Soviet leaders can meet and discuss different issues. Within the CIS Russia has close allies such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Maybe Armenia could also be added to this list, but there are other countries, such as Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, which are less integrated in CIS structures and therefore less trusted by Russia.

Maybe in the near future, depending on the situation, some more countries will start withdrawing from it. Meanwhile, we are left to ponder the very interesting opinion aired by Georgia’s Ambassador to Belarus, Zurab Khonelidze, who said that instead of Georgia withdrawing from the CIS it should have demanded Russia’s exclusion, on the grounds that it had undertaken direct military aggression against another member country. It is difficult to imagine that this would have brought serious results, but nevertheless it may have had some value as a symbolic approach.