Georgia waves goodbye to the CIS

Georgia has finalized plans to withdraw from the Commonwealth of Independent States, a regional alliance of former Soviet republics.

Tbilisi initiated the withdrawal on the 14th of August 2008 when the country’s parliament unanimously supported president Saakashvili’s motion to do so. The decision came immediately after the conflict in South Ossetia.

According to CIS regulations, the legal action to leave the organization takes a year. Therefore, as confirmed by representatives of both Georgia and the CIS, the country’s membership will end on the 18th of August 2009.

The CIS executive committee has, however, pointed out that Georgia has expressed a desire to continue to participate in agreements ratified over the course of its membership.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry noted that the situation should be taken at face value:

“The events should not be dramatized, each sovereign state has the right to decide on its participation in any organization. It is the sovereign right of every state,” a ministry spokesperson told TASS.

Nevertheless, the ministry is concerned that Georgia’s withdrawal may have a “negative effect on the country’s citizens”.

Leonid Slutsky, the deputy chairman of the Russian Duma committee on foreign affairs, agrees with this view:

“Tbilisi will have to re-establish the agreements which were drawn up in the CIS framework, including visa-free travel as well as education and labour migration. In the current situation this could be problematic,” he said.

“However, nothing dramatic will happen, especially for the Commonwealth,” he added.