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Georgia's withdrawal from the CIS will not harm the organization,
Georgia's withdrawal from the CIS will not harm the organization, the Russian foreign minister said on Thursday, suggesting that Tbilisi's participation in the post-Soviet alliance had been malign in recent years.

"Georgia's membership of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in the past few years has been aimed at the erosion of the Commonwealth, rather than its consolidation, so I cannot see any negative consequences for our organization," Sergei Lavrov said after a CIS foreign ministers' meeting in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

Georgia notified the CIS executive committee of its desire to quit the Russian-dominated organization on August 18, 2008. The move came after a five-day war with Russia over the Georgian breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

Its withdrawal will come into effect next August.

The CIS currently comprises Russia, Georgia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Ukraine is a founding and participating country but technically not a member state. Turkmenistan holds associate status.

According to the head of the CIS Executive Committee, Sergei Lebedev, no other CIS member expressed a desire to follow Georgia's example.

"Georgia's decision is an exception," Lebedev said, adding that Tbilisi's move would primarily hurt Georgia.

"It is not surprising that the Georgian leadership reaffirmed the country's participation in several CIS agreements that serve Georgia's interests, despite an official withdrawal from the organization," he said.

All the meeting's participants expressed the hope that Georgia would eventually return to the organization.

"The door for Georgia [to the CIS] will always be open, and if its leadership decides to return, I believe the response will be positive," Lebedev said.


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