06MOSCOW5492, GEORGIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ON CIS WITHDRAWAL,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5492 2006-05-24 14:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6164
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #5492/01 1441424
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241424Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6358
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005492 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/12/2016 
TAGS: PREL ETRD GG RS
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ON CIS WITHDRAWAL, 
NATO ENTRY 
 
REF: TEFFT-REMLER E-MAIL 5/19/06 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Georgian Deputy PM Baramidze told the 
Ambassador May 23 that he expected Georgia to leave the CIS 
in a matter of months.  Negotiating bilateral agreements with 
the non-Russian members of the organization would be a 
priority; it would be important to protect the interests of 
Georgian citizens living and trading in the CIS.  He 
predicted that as Georgia moved towards NATO membership, 
Russia would increasingly portray it as irresponsible. 
Ambassador urged Georgia to pursue tactics that would make 
such a portrayal difficult.  End Summary. 
 
CIS 
--- 
 
2. (C) Georgian Deputy PM and State Minister for European 
Integration  Giorgi (Gia) Baramidze called on the Ambassador 
May 23.  He was in Moscow en route to a CIS Heads of 
Government (HOG) meeting in Dushanbe.  He said his 
instructions were to inform other CIS HOGs that Georgia 
wished to maintain excellent bilateral relations.  However, 
in view of the CIS' failure to secure for Georgia the freedom 
of travel and economic access that it secured for other 
member countries, President Saakashvili had asked the 
government to "start consideration" of whether Georgia should 
remain a member of the organization.  Baramidze would stress 
that no decisions had been taken. 
 
3. (C) Baramidze said that in his opinion it was a "matter of 
months" before Georgia quit the organization.  The GOG needed 
first to ensure that the economic interests of its people 
would be secure (especially by replacing the CIS visa regime 
with bilateral ones) and that other necessary bilateral 
agreements could be reached.  Timing would be important: 
before or after the NATO Summit in Riga? 
 
4. (C) Ambassador asked what the practical consequences of 
withdrawal would be.  Baramidze listed several: 
 
-- The Abkhazia PKO was a CIS PKO whose status would have to 
change; Georgia was already considering demanding that it 
leave.  Baramidze did not address the likely Russian reaction. 
 
-- Georgia's main exports to Russia -- fruit, wine and 
mineral water -- were already banned, and Georgia was the 
only CIS country whose citizens needed visas to enter Russia. 
 In the long run, Georgia would benefit from finding a 
replacement for Russian markets, as the Baltics had done. 
(Note:  Baramidze was concerned about the fate of Georgian 
citizens living and working in Russia, but did not raise the 
prospect that Russia might allow them to stay but  interfere 
with remittances they send back to relatives in Georgia.  End 
Note.) 
 
-- Georgian Ambassador Chubinishvili, who was sitting in, 
added that if Georgia quit the CIS, Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia would demand CIS membership and might be allowed in 
as "observers."  He believed Georgian citizens of 
non-Georgian ethnicity (Armenians and Azeris) might be 
expelled from Russia back to Georgia to stir up trouble in 
ethnically sensitive regions. 
 
5. (C) Ambassador asked about the attitudes of other CIS 
members.  Baramidze guessed that Kazakh President Nazarbayev, 
now CIS Chair, would be "slightly on the Russian side" in the 
dispute.  Ukraine would be Georgia's main ally, though it 
would not leave the CIS.  Moldova would be another ally.  If 
Azerbaijan supported Georgia, Armenia would oppose, and vice 
versa.  The attitude of Belarus was a foregone conclusion. 
 
NATO 
---- 
 
6. (C) Baramidze talked of progress in convincing Allies to 
grant Georgia Intensified Dialogue (ID) for NATO membership. 
Three days earlier, German Chancellor Merkel's Foreign 
Affairs advisor had told Baramidze he was convinced, but 
needed to conduct internal consultations.  Baramidze expected 
a long process for NATO membership, but warned that if 
Georgia's expectations were allowed to fail, Georgia might 
develop "different priorities," especially on peaceful 
conflict resolution. 
 
7. (C) Baramidze said that the reluctance of some Allies on 
ID was due to an intensive Russian campaign.  He said Russia 
will engage in military provocations, as it already has with 
"visas, gas, electricity and embargoes on Georgian products." 
 That was all done to cause internal discontent and 
 
MOSCOW 00005492  002 OF 002 
 
 
demonstrations.  The GOG's popularity had gone down, but as 
the result of normal internal processes, not the Russian 
campaign.  Externally, the Russians would try to convince the 
international community that the Georgia was run by a "bunch 
of kids" who make provocative statements and take crazy, 
unpredictable actions.  Russia could then turn to the G8 and 
NATO and say, "Let us handle these crazy people." 
 
8. (C) Ambassador asked whether recent public statements by 
Georgian officials did not play into the Russian strategy 
Baramidze had described.  Baramidze said that the statements 
themselves were just excuses; Russian actions were not driven 
by
 them.  He reiterated that Russia's main aim was to portray 
Georgia as irresponsible.  Ambassador reiterated that 
provocative Georgian statements made it easier for Russia to 
do just that.  Baramidze sighed and acknowledged  that 
sometimes DefMin Okruashvili "lets emotion get the better of 
him." 
 
9. (C) Ambassador said there was little advice he could give 
Baramidze about Russia that Baramidze did not already know, 
or that Ambassador Tefft had not already conveyed.  Russia 
made no secret of its concerns over Georgian moves towards 
NATO.  It had used some levers, and had many more.  Politics 
would get more intense as we headed towards 2008, and 
Georgia-bashing would be popular.  Continued high energy 
prices would keep the Russians self-confident.  The U.S. had 
a strong interest in cooperating with Russia where possible, 
but would not hesitate to criticize where necessary.  Georgia 
should work with the Europeans as well, and despite all 
temptations not fall into the trap of making it easier for 
Russia to portray Georgia as irresponsible. 
BURNS

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