Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze — asked upon his arrival in Moscow on the eve of the summit what would happen if the CIS should cease to exist — responded: "Nothing. We’ve adopted a lot of documents, but where’s the beef? The member countries prefer bilateral relations." In post-summit statements, Shevardnadze and State Minister (equivalent of Prime Minister) Niko Lekishvili commented that the proposed Concept of Economic Integrationist Development contained stipulations contravening Georgia’s national legislation and international commitments. Lekishvili pointed out that joining an "integrated" CIS economic space and customs union would preclude Georgia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. The conclusion he drew from the Moscow meeting was that "the conceptual dispute over the future of the CIS is far from finished… There are very real political forces seeking to create a USSR-like superstate based on the CIS. Georgia absolutely rules out its participation in such schemes." (RTR, Interfax, Radio Tbilisi, March 27, 30-31) Georgian leaders often argue that the deadlock in Abkhazia exemplifies the ineffectiveness of the CIS. However, they clearly recognize that the matter ultimately rests with Russia and forms a touchstone of bilateral Georgian-Russian relations.
Nazarbaev Defends Cooperation Outside CIS.