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Sunday, 24 June 2018


Who in Georgia wants to join NATO?

2008-12-10 09:34

9/6/3/963.jpegLast week in Brussels the European countries blocked US efforts for the Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO. However, the format of the so-called annual national programme was greeted with enthusiasm in Tbilisi. Meanwhile, an increasing number of opposition politicians are speaking out in favour of the country being neutral and for third country bases not to be stationed on its territory.


The leader of the Imedi political movement Irina Sarishvili has held this view, which used to be so unpopular in Georgia, for several years. Before that she used to run the Igor Giorgadze (the former head of the KGB accused of aiding and abetting Russia) charitable foundation, so her suggestion not to join the alliance was viewed by Tbilisi as a case of the "evil witch being against it".

In an interview with our correspondent Irina Sarishvili remarked: "Stationing NATO bases here runs against the geopolitical location of our country and our history. Our only salvation is neutrality. Furthermore, after the August events this is a more pressing priority than before. There are Russian bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, so if NATO bases appear on another part of our country's territory, we will turn into an artillery range."

She does not rule out the possibility that, even after the refusal to grant Georgia a MAP, certain forces might use this for their own interests. For example, to sign an agreement on stationing third country armed forces in Georgia without the country joining the alliance. Sarishvili notes that there are still American ships in the Black Sea by Georgia's shores. They delivered humanitarian aid, but why are they still there to this day? She is frustrated that even so, the idea of neutrality is unpopular in the ranks of the opposition.

Nevertheless, the Imedi political movement is now by no means the only organization that has an anti-NATO position.

Hence last week the leader of the Labour party Shalva Natelashvili announced that his party was against Georgia joining the North Atlantic bloc: "All the active attempts that Georgia has made to integrate into the alliance over the last few years have had destructive consequences. Georgia should develop as an independent state without being a member of any military blocs. Only this will save Georgia. Otherwise we will be a military stage between two superpowers and we will never become independent."

A close adviser of his, Kakha Dzagania, explained in an interview with our correspondent: "We are not only against joining NATO, but also any other military organization. We are in favour of cooperation with both Washington and Russia, including in the military sphere. But, I repeat, Georgia should not join any military blocs."

It is curious that early in the year the Labour party seemed to support the idea of joining the alliance. Kakha Dzagania retorts: "Back then we were part of the United Opposition bloc. A joint memorandum was signed where this point was made. Actually we have always opposed joining NATO. And for this reason too the authorities have so often accused us of working alongside the Kremlin."

And here is the most interesting thing. The Labour party, which was reputed to be the "proud loner", by their own initiative started preparing a memorandum calling for Saakashvili's resignation. The party members also hope that the opposition will demonstrate unity on this issue. The document will be ready in a few days.

This hope will probably be realized. Since practically all the opponents of Saakashvili's regime are in favour of the resignation of the current president. But there is no such unity on the issue of NATO.

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