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NATO trying Georgia’s patience

11.04.2011  |  21:54

NATO trying Georgia’s patience. 15737.jpegIt looks like Sakartvelo will hardly get rid of its North-Atlantic dreams in the nearest years. Chairman of NATO Secretary General James Appathurai raised Tbilisi's hopes by saying that the country attained "evident progress" on its way to the bloc. As was expected, the inspired officials started rejoicing: in two or three years their county will be ready to join the North Atlantic Alliance's ranks. The prospects of Georgia's mythic membership in NATO were discussed by GeorgiaTimes correspondent with Russian political experts Valery Khomyakov


and Eugeniy Minchenko.

Appathurai has been long-awaited in Georgia. President of the country Mikhail Saakashvili and his team constantly underline that the North-Atlantic vector is the basis of the current regime's policy. But for some reason, in its desire to meet the standards of the bloc the official Tbilisi focuses solely on the military aspect. Georgian army is really training a lot and the peacekeepers from Sakartvelo are taking part in a counter-terrorist operation in Afghanistan. But the authorities evidently forget about the socio-economic transformations that are so necessary and that can make the republic one more inch closer to living conditions in the NATO countries.

That was what the North-Atlantic Alliance spokesman focused on upon his arrival in Tbilisi. "The reforming process in Georgia and the general relationship between NATO and the republic are developing in the right direction and both parties should enhance the success, - Appathurai is cited by the Caucasian Information Portal. - Tbilisi works a lot to meet the standards required to enter the alliance; we can see apparent progress; however, there is more to be done".

The high guest touched upon Georgia's territorial problems as well. It looks like the conflict with Abkhazia and South Ossetia is the sticking point on Sakartvelo's way to the alliance. Though Appathurai stated NATO's support of Georgia's "territorial integrity", the alliance has many times hinted to Saakashvili that it would be good to mend connections with Moscow, Tskhinval and Sukhum.

However, Appathurai's words made quite an opposite impression on the Georgian officials. According to State Minister for Integration in European and Euro-Atlantic Structures Georgy Baramidze, in two or three years, the republic will be fully ready to enter in NATO. "Georgia has got everything to continue those democratic reforms and reforms in the field of defense and security that have been positively assessed so far and become NATO member", - VZGLYAD is citing him.

Are the Georgian authorities' expectations grounded? GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed the matter with the famous Russian experts.

Valery Khomyakov, Director General of the National Strategy Council: I believe that Appathurai made such statement in order to calm down most radical layers of the Georgian society, including those authorities who reckon on Georgia's entrance in the alliance: don't worry, guys, everything will be fine and things go on according to the plan. But it is not NATO spokesman who decides whether the republic will be in the bloc. It has got its criteria on accepting new members and the basic ones are the absence of territorial discrepancies and a consensus between all members on admitting a new country. Appathurai had to say something pleasant and paying attention to such statements means being carried away by some illusions. Reasonable members of the Georgian society understand that entering in NATO is not that easy and it's not the main problem for the country.

Eugeny Minchenko, Director of International Institute of Political Expertise: to my mind, James Appathurai's statement is a kind of spiritual healing for the Georgian authorities, for I see no opportunities for Tbilisi's entrance in the alliance presently. It's enough to remember the problems with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

What are the prospects of Georgia's entrance in the North-Atlantic alliance?

Valery Khomyakov: I believe they are zero. Georgian government should be busy with other things: it should make agreements with neighbours, come to an understanding with them, take on economy and social policy. And I do not think that the Georgian economy will bloom if the country is admitted to NATO. Things will be more difficult then if we take, for example, arms costs into consideration.

Eugeny Minchenko: The possibility of Georgia's entrance in the Georgian bloc is in inverse ratio to the successful process of the Russian-American "reload". If there are any problems in Moscow and Washington's dialogue, then Americans may seriously speak about the republic's potential membership in NATO. On the other hand, one should not forget that there is a number of West-European countries that speak out against the bloc expansion.

Ruslan Chigoev

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