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GEORGIA

Some 77% Georgians vote to join NATO

Some 77% of the Georgian population voted for joining NATO, the Georgian Central Elections Commission (CEC) said in its official report on Friday. Russia Army chief: Russia may use nuclear weapons if necessary.

The CEC confirmed the final result of the vote counting on the referendum on Georgia’s accession to NATO, that was held on Jan. 5 in parallel to the Georgian Presidential Elections, the Interfax news agency reported. The plebiscite participants were to answer the question: “Do you support Georgian accession to NATO?” A referendum for an early parliamentary elections this spring was also held on Jan. 5. An affirmative answer was given by 79.74%.

Armed forces will be used if necessary, including preventively and with the use of nuclear weapons, for the protection of Russia and its allies, the Russian Armed Forces’ Chief of the General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky said on Saturday. “We do not intend to attack anybody. But all our partners must realize that for protection of Russia and its allies if necessary armed forces will be used, including preventively, including with the use of nuclear weapons,” Baluyevsky was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying at a scientific conference of the Academy of Military Sciences. With the emergence of new threats to security, Russia needs to update a number of provisions in the existing National Security Concept, Baluyevsky said. “As life is ever-changing, it has become necessary today to update certain provisions of the concept and, what is the most important, to turn these provisions into a working mechanism for protecting our national security,” he said.

Baluyevsky’s speech came a day after Georgia announced some 77% of the Georgian population voted for joining NATO in a recent referendum. Georgia’s possible entry into NATO will seriously change the regional geostrategic situation, Nikolai Bordyuzha, general secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), said on Friday. “Georgia’s membership in NATO means that the military infrastructure of the alliance will advance closer to the CSTO borders and that there will be higher military activity directly outside the external borders of the organization’s zone of responsibility,” he said. “This will in itself inevitably provoke stronger instability and unpredictability that will jeopardize the CSTO’s zone of responsibility,” Bordyuzha said. The seven-member CSTO was renamed in October 2002 on the basis of the Collective Security Treaty (CST), which was signed in Mary 1992 within the framework of the commonwealth of Independent States. The current members of the CSTO include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia and Uzbekistan.

(BBJ 21.i.08)