CIS Summit Suspends Peacekeeping in Abkhazia; No talk of Recognition

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (Combined Sources)–The Commonwealth of Independence States foreign ministerial meeting taking place in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek passed on Thursday a resolution to withdraw peacekeepers from Abkhazia, forgoing, for the time being, discussion on the recognition of Abkhazian and South Ossetian Independence.

“At our proposal, a formal, technical decision was passed on the cessation of the activity of the Collective Forces for the Maintenance of Peace in Abkhazia, which were established by the heads of state of the CIS,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Russian troops were stationed in the Abkhaz conflict zone under the auspices of the CIS as part of an agreement signed in the early 90s between the Georgia and Russia.

Despite taking a decision to withdraw peacekeeping forces from the region, there was no discussion on the recognition of Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence by the CIS on the agenda of the meeting.

“The issue of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has not been included in the agenda of the session. I think it will not be discussed at the session of the council of the heads of the CIS countries which is going to take place tomorrow,” Lebedev said. “No collective decision has been made over this issue.”

The summit did, however, suspend Georgia’s membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

“A technical decision was made to suspend Georgia’s membership of the CIS in accordance with its request,” Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying. “Starting August 2009, Georgia will stop being member of the CIS.”

"Georgia’s membership of the Commonwealth of Independent States in the past few years had been aimed at the erosion of the Commonwealth, rather than its consolidation, so I cannot see any negative consequences for our organization," Lavrov told reporters after Thursday’s session.

Georgia’s President, Mikheil Saakashvili, announced on August 12 that Georgia would leave the CIS, saying Russian troops would henceforth be deemed “occupational forces.” Two days later the Georgian parliament approved a decision to quit the CIS.

The decision envisages withdrawing from three agreemen’s ‘s the 1991 treaty on setting up the Commonwealth of Independent States, the charter approved by decision of the CIS heads of states in January 1993 and an agreement on economic cooperation from September 1993.

The CIS currently comprises Russia, Georgia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Armenia.

Armenia’s President, Serzh Sarkisian, left for Bishkek on Thursday for a session of the CIS council of the heads of state and the inter-state Eurasian Economic Association council, of which Armenia has observer status.

According to Sarkisian’s press office, the Armenian delegation to Bishkek includes Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, Armenia’s permanent representative to the CIS, Armenian ambassador to Belarus Oleg Yesayan.

The leaders of the CIS countries will discuss the economic development strategy for the CIS until 2020. Energy cooperation is high on the agenda of the summit.

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