DUSHANBE, August 18, Asia-Plus  -- Georgia is officially ending its membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as of today.

We will recall that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announced his country’s quitting the CIS on August 12, 2008, after Russian forces entered Georgia’s breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Commenting on Georgia’s CIS withdrawal, Tajik independent expert Shokirjon Hakimov noted that Georgia’s CIS withdrawal was the beginning of the end of the Commonwealth.         

“Actions of Georgian authorities are logical because Russian plays dominating role within the CIS area.  Irrespective of Russia’s policy regarding South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it was clear that Georgia was seeking closer ties with western states and Russia disliked that,” Hakimov said.

According to him, the main cause of disagreements within the CIS area is different economic situation and differences in methods of management in the CIS states.

“Within the CIS area, priority is given to military and political issues, while more significance should be attached to social and economic issues,” said the expert, “They have paid much attention to discussion of political issues and few attention has been paid to solution of economic problems and this is the main factor impeding implementation of agreement reached within the CIS area.  For example, many CIS states have suspended their membership of some of the CIS institutions because of their inefficiency.  Thus, five of eleven CIS states have suspended their membership of the CIS Economic Court and this is also evidence of a gradual breakdown of the Commonwealth.”

He added that disagreements and disputes existing within the CIS area, for example between Russia and Ukraine, between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan might also speed up the process of breakdown of the CIS.

In the meantime, Radio Liberty reports that officials in Georgia''s State Chancellery said that Tbilisi plans to sign bilateral agreements with CIS member countries on visa-free travel, special customs taxes, and other issues previously defined by the CIS.  Tbilisi''s main priority in that matter will be its further cooperation with its more active economic partners, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, the officials said.