No Georgian regrets about CIS withdrawal
By Salome Modebadze
Monday, December 13
At the meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev summarized the achievements of the year for the CIS member states and identified priorities for the upcoming year at the Kremlin on December 10. The summit participants, discussing the outcomes of Russia’s presidency of the Commonwealth, had been encouraged by Medvedev who stated that based on this year’s activities it has become possible to form a full-fledged CIS free trade zone that meets WTO requirements. Its goal is to ensure comfortable conditions and equal access to goods from nations that are parties to the draft agreement on forming such a zone which, according to the Russian President, would be finalized by the end of the year.
Hailing the work of the CIS in 2010 at the press conference held after the summit, President Medvedev highlighted the significance of the organization as the only arena in the post-Soviet area, enabling the member states to effectively consult on various issues. Medvedev further highlighted the successful humanitarian cooperation among the states and noted that cultural and humanitarian ties are among the most valuable, uniting aspects of international relations.
Talking about Georgia as an example which once was a CIS member state, the Russian President stressed that Georgia has gained nothing by quitting this playground. “Those who have left this forum, in this case Georgia have hardly gained anything but lost an opportunity to be in touch with most of the post-Soviet states and being the part of agreements in the frames of CIS,” Medvedev said explaining that this "negative" example of Georgia proved CIS’s ability to regulate relations among the states for further development.
Georgia was the last country to join the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1993 and the first out of 12 former Soviet states to quit the organization. It was in August 12, 2008 just after the end of active military hostilities with Russia, when the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili officially announced his intention to quit the CIS. “We are now saying “good-bye” to the Soviet Union which will never return here [in Georgia] again,” Saakashvili then stated on August 18, 2009 that the country left the organization when the long procedural regulations were finally over.
Political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili spoke of the imperialistic approach of the Russian Federation in creating the CIS as an attempt to strengthen the post-Soviet area. “I remember well 1993 when Georgia received CIS membership which brought no particular advantages to our country. Georgia made no progress neither in political nor in economical development under the CIS because Russia had been using the organization to force its ideology,” Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger stressing that the CIS member states have done nothing to avoid Russia’s intervention in Georgia and support the peace keeping missions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Withdrawal from the CIS, according to the analyst, was a step that gave the country back its self-respect and that the Government of Georgia lost nothing from the move. “The CIS had only been functioning properly for the first 2-3 years and if the Russian President talks of Georgia’s withdrawal as a mistake let him do so,” he said calling the CIS an example of artificial “harmony “in the post-Soviet space. According to the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Georgia remains part of 75 multilateral agreements not based on CIS membership, including visa-free movement and free trade with most of the organization member states despite its withdrawal from the organization.