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NATO-Georgia: new promises

15.01.2010  |  18:49

5098.jpegRecently Georgia submitted a new cooperation plan for 2010 to NATO headquarters. The document is supposed to foster a closer rapprochement between Georgia and the North Atlantic Alliance since as it is known Tbilisi was given a Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2008and is now acting under annual plans. Will these little steps take Georgia to a long-awaited membership?

According to the new annual NATO cooperation plan in 2010 Georgia shall reinforce military reforms, exterminate consequences of the August war, stimulate anti-corruption activities, provide more freedom to mass media and call local elections at a level to match an emerging democracy.

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Georgian state minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration Georgy Baramidze stated that the cooperation plan would be adopted by the end of January.

GeorgiaTimes correspondent interviewed Russian and Georgian politologists to learn about Georgia's prospects of becoming a NATO member.

Felix Stanevsky, head of Caucasus department at the CIS Countries Institute:

Can such annual cooperation programs between Georgia and NATO replace a MAP?

Many in the West want to see Georgia as a NATO member. These are Eastern European countries and part of the US establishment of the former administration, first of all. A lot will depend on whether these forces will influence the decision on Georgia's accession into the alliance.

No doubt, attempts to drag Georgia as closer to NATO as possible will continue. At the same time there are countries inside the bloc that don't want to rush realizing that hurried rapprochement between Georgia and NATO might destabilize the situation in Caucasus and spoil relations with Russia.

The differences over the issue - to admit Georgia or not - are quite significant. They can be compared to different attitudes to current president Mikheil Saakashvili.

Will the USA continue to lobby Georgia's interests as well as its NATO aspirations in the context of Russian-US reset?

Certainly the United States will keep lobbying Georgia's interests in its aspiration to become a NATO member. The degree of lobbying will be different. Formerly it could be compared with ardor and fervor. Now it's different. However the process of taking Tbilisi closer to the alliance is underway as repeatedly confirmed by US Senator John McCain's recent visit to Georgia.

Is Georgia ready for NATO membership in its present state?

No, Georgia is not. And alliance members are perfectly aware of that and say so. It will take the country a long way to become a member of the bloc.

However many rules of NATO accession can be put aside when Georgia is concerned if the alliance preserves its great wish to see the republic among its active members. With regard to generally acknowledged NATO standards this issue won't be part of the agenda. Now Tbilisi is much more concerned over stability issue closely connected with relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Giya Melitauri, a Georgian military expert:

Can such annual cooperation programs between Georgia and NATO replace a MAP?

First of all I must say that a MAP is not a panacea for acceding NATO. Essentially current annual cooperation programs between Georgia and the alliance is a transformed MAP comprising a number of gradual steps toward the bloc.

Will the USA continue to lobby Georgia's interests as well as its NATO aspirations in the context of Russian-US reset?

Yes, doubtless. US and NATO interests in Caucasus are great that's why the alliance and the States urge Georgia's membership in NATO and other European structures like the European Union. Moreover, Georgia's membership in these organizations will guarantee security in South Caucasus.

Presently Georgia is an apple of discord between two sides. This is not a cold war but both Russia and NATO have their interests in South Caucasus. In future the key points will be highlighted, and the bundle of contradictions will be untied. If Georgia is recognized as a NATO and a EU member the problems we are discussing now will not exist.

Is Georgia ready for NATO membership in its present state?

No, it's not. However the purpose of the annual program is exactly this: to prepare Georgia for this membership. Time will show how much time Georgia will need to come up to NATO standards. But this time-phased accession will help the country to get ready for this.

 

Ruslan Chigoev

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