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Should the Georgian military be measured for NATO uniforms?2008-11-20 09:49
On 19th of November Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili addressed the session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Valencia. Along with his traditional accusations against Moscow regarding the events in August, he also talked about Georgia's plans to integrate into the Euroatlantic alliance. Meanwhile, the dreams of acquiring a longed for Membership Action Plan (MAP) are becoming ever more illusory...
Admittedly, just as before the USA is lobbying for Georgia to join the alliance. Hence, following his visit to Washington the State Minister for Euroatlantic Integration Georgi Baramidze said that the Bush administration had confirmed its support for providing Georgia with a MAP in December this year. A few days later US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates added fuel to the fire by saying that Moscow has no right to stand in the way of Georgia joining NATO.
Russia's envoy to the alliance Dmitry Rogozin was even refused the chance to address today's session in Valencia. In response he has decided not to participate in the event at all. According to the Russian diplomat, the Assembly leadership "is condemning its colleagues to a one-sided, distorted perception of the events of this August in the Caucasus".
But the world has heard so many horror stories from Saakashvili about August that any revelations made in Valencia are unlikely to cause a sensation. And the United States' position has long been known. As far as granting a MAP is concerned, the Georgian expert on the Caucasus Mamuka Areshidze maintains that Russia has got its way and Georgia has almost no chance for this to happen.
To Georgia's complete surprise, a few days ago Belgium's leadership issued a categorical "no". Recently the deputy chairman of the Senate commission for foreign affairs Josie Dubier said that Belgium was intending to block Georgia's entry into NATO, "as long as Saakashvili remains head of state".
Moreover, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Greece represent the group which is still convinced that it is too early to present Georgia with a MAP. And Tbilisi is in no doubt that this position has been caused by a fear of irritating Moscow. After all, their dependence on Russian energy resources makes it imperative that they take Russia's reaction into consideration.
In Georgia they seem to have now resigned themselves to the fact that the path into the alliance will be more difficult than they expected. The matter has been severely complicated by the outcome of the August conflict, which inflicted great damage on Georgia's armed forces. "The defence infrastructure was very badly damaged," explains Georgia's ambassador to the UN Irakli Alasania while commenting on yesterday's telephone conversation between Barack Obama and Mikheil Saakashvili.
Alasania, a cousin of Mikheil Nikolaevich, expressed his hope that the coming to power of the Democratic party in the USA would not complicate Tbilisi's task: "Support for Georgia and its ambitions to join NATO comes from both American parties".
They still hold out hope for London, which has strained relations with Moscow. Moreover, Great Britain deems it crucial to defend the interests of the energy corporation British Petroleum, which has the largest stake in the transit oil pipelines on Georgian territory.
On the back of the mutual love of convenience between Russia and the EU which blossomed at Nice, it is unlikely that Washington and London will manage to satisfy Georgia's expectations.