In a March 19 briefing, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakly Menagarishvili singled out two aspects of Georgia’s foreign and security policy. First, he described the CIS Collective Security Treaty as “absolutely ineffective, at variance with present realities, signed in and made for another era.” Georgia will discuss revising the treaty but, in the meantime, “cannot prolong its participation in a treaty which fails to correspond to contemporary conditions.” Second, Georgia regards cooperation with NATO as “answering the country’s interests and the needs of military modernization.” While “the question of Georgian membership is not on the agenda at present,” the country “may apply for membership only when the level of its economic and military development are compatible with European standards.” Menagarishvili spoke during a visit to Armenia, which has opted for the Russian alliance (Itar-Tass, March 19).
The statement breaks new ground in that it links these two tracks of Georgian policy, underscoring their interdependence. It also amounts to a warning, in the run-up to the CIS summit scheduled for April 2, that Tbilisi can not be expected to willingly extend its participation in the Collective Security Treaty. Military modernization will, however, be hamstrung at least in the short term by financial constraints. The 1999 budget, approved on March 20 by parliament, cuts defense spending (AP, March 21).
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