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Turkmenistan declares its associated membership in CIS - Georgian president

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KAZAN, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - Turkmenistan declared at the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit Friday its associated membership in the CIS, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told a press conference in Tatarstan's capital Saturday.

"This is the first time since the CIS was established," Saakashvili said.

Turkmenistan was the only CIS country at the Kazan summit represented by a deputy prime minister.

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov regularly said on national television that his state gave priority not to multilateral but bilateral relations. He often criticized the CIS bodies' activity.

Turkmenistan does not make part of most organizations created within the CIS framework. Niyazov said his country did not participate in the Collective Security Treaty Organization and Eurasec because Turkmenistan had received the status of permanent neutrality in 1995 on UN General Assembly decision.

Niyazov rarely attends CIS summits and informal meetings, sending vice premiers instead. De facto, Turkmenistan has long considered itself a CIS associated member.

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