Georgia still mulling exit from CIS - deputy premier
(RIA Novosti) - The Georgian government is examining whether to withdraw from the Commonwealth of Independent States, but has not yet reached a decision, the country's state minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration said Thursday.
Georgy Baramidze, who is also deputy prime minister, said: "We had placed great hopes in the CIS for peaceful conflict resolution, freedom of movement of our citizens, and improvements in economic relations, but everything turned out exactly to the contrary. For Georgia in any case. Our hopes in the CIS were not justified, so there is no longer any sense in staying in the CIS."
Georgia's potential withdrawal from the loose union of former Soviet republics has been a source of tension with its neighbor, Russia. Georgian officials have accused Moscow of waging a trade war against the country, reports Trend.
Russia banned imports of Georgian wines in March and mineral water at the beginning of May because health authorities said they failed to meet standards.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili instructed his government May 2 to look at economic aspects of the country's continued membership of the CIS and Georgia's foreign minister said Sunday his country had started consultations with Ukraine on possible withdrawal from the organization.
Baramidze, currently on a visit to the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan, said however that Georgia intended to develop bilateral contacts with CIS states
"Most CIS countries are our friends. We want to retain friendly relations with all states without exception, as far as they make this possible," he said. "We, on our part, are continuing all efforts to resolve all issues on a bilateral level, so that our citizens can visit CIS states if possible without visas, and so that our businesses can sustain mutually beneficial relations with CIS partners."
Eleven former Soviet republics are CIS members: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan discontinued permanent membership on August 26, 2005 and is now an associate member.