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NATO’s office as a consolation prize to Tbilisi2010-10-01 15:20
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is on his way to Georgia planning to meet the country's leadership and inaugurate the North Atlantic alliance communications office supposed to manage contacts between Brussels and Tbilisi, as expected. In the meantime, the republic's real links with the alliance leave much to be desired presently. Though Rasmussen recently told about "NATO's door still open" for Georgia, neither the Georgian opposition nor President Mikheil Saakashvili see chances of prompt admission.
It seems the Georgian establishment gradually comes to its senses starting to realize that NATO's promises on the republic's admission made in Bucharest are hanging in the air. On one hand, the alliance wants to make it clear that new members are welcome. On the other hand, it calls for compliance with all requirements that are like flying to the moon for Georgia.
Judge for yourselves: even main ideologist of Sakartvelo's North Atlantic integration Mikheil Saakashvili states in local press that Georgia is looking forward to NATO membership but this is no more an obsession. Besides, the Georgian leader is not sure that the country will accede to the alliance before expiration of his presidential powers in 2013.
The opposition has no illusions either. According to Giorgy Targamadze, leader of Christian Democrats, Rasmussen's current visit will be of no use to the republic. "NATO has not changed its attitude to our country, besides, annual commitments Georgia undertook are complied with according to the plan", - Rosbalt quotes.
Those in obliging positions seem to brace themselves up. David Darchiashvili, chair of European and Euro-Atlantic integration parliamentary committee, for instance. He thinks that the NATO SG's visit is a mythic "political message to Kremlin" allegedly seeking breakdown of Georgian-NATO relations. "But these relations exist and will grow closer", - Darchiashvili convinces himself. - This is also a message to us that Georgia remains among vital topics on NATO's summit agenda coming soon".
Chairman of Georgian parliament David Bakradze approaches from another angle thinking that involvement of almost one thousand Georgian peacekeepers in NATO's anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan plays an important role for the republic's integration into the North Atlantic alliance.
No doubt, Georgia has updated the army over the past two years making it stronger than it was before 2008. However, economic and social reforms have completely failed in the republic. Still, as we know, there is little chance to march into NATO on soldiers only. This is what Rasmussen hinted at in his recent interview. "We reconfirm decisions we made in Bucharest: Georgia and Ukraine will be NATO members if they want to and provided they reach certain criteria", - he emphasized. I think Rasmussen remembers his words pronounced in spring when NATO secretary general refused to define exact terms of the republic's accession into the alliance as well as adoption of the republic's membership action plan (MAP).
Georgian politologists are inclined to think that halting integration processes the country is so striving for has several reasons. Firstly, this is discontent over Sakartvelo's accession on the part of the bloc's major member states like Germany and the Netherlands that pursue political partnership with Russia and don't want to spoil relations with it.
Secondly, this is the so-called reset. "For the West the disarmament issue is particularly up-to-date making decisions on NATO admission slower for certain states", - Mamuka Areshidze, head of Center for Strategic Research in Caucasus NGO remarks.