State Minister (equivalent of prime minister) Niko Lekishvili, who led Georgia’s delegation to the January 17 meeting in Moscow of prime ministers from the CIS countries, said yesterday that Tbilisi declined to sign various documents on "deepening economic integration" because they evidenced a "tendency to create supranational organizations which would infringe on state sovereignty." Lekishvili stated: "The idea of creating some new type of state based on the CIS is doomed." Georgia declined also to sign Russian-prepared agreements on collective security issues. Alluding to Russia’s exploitation of regional conflicts, President Eduard Shevardnadze declared on national radio yesterday that "the CIS will be viable when it will ensure each member country’s freedom, independence, and territorial integrity." (Interfax, January 20. On the Moscow meeting see Monitor, January 20)
The Russian government yesterday announced a decision to restructure Georgia’s repayment of Russian state loans worth $179 million. Repayment of the principal is rescheduled for the period 2000-2005, at 4 percent annual interest accruing from 1997 onward. Russian deputy prime Minister Valery Serov is to finalize and sign the agreement with Tbilisi. Lekishvili commented yesterday that Moscow took the decision "not out of any sympathy for Tbilisi, but under pressure from international financial institutions" — in connection with measures to restructure Russian debts. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, January 20)
Azerbaijan Commemorates Soviet Crackdown While Those Implicated Look On from Moscow.