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Russia doesn’t want to see Georgia on the MAP

By Messenger staff
Wednesday, December 3
Georgia – NATO relations are entering yet another critical period. Whatever the reasons or arguments or alternatives, MAP denial will further increase the feeling of frustration in Georgian society towards the West. No official results of polling are available so far, but just from observation it is clear that the general mood in the population is a growing sense of disappointment, and the public appearances of certain politicians echo this.

The idea of joining NATO first appeared in the late eighties of the last century. Irakli Tsereteli, one of the leaders of national liberation movement, suggested it. This dream was not taken seriously then. Just about a decade later however steps were taken to make it a reality and before being forced to leave his post President Shevardnadze submitted an official application to the organization.

For the Rose Revolution Administration NATO entry became part of practical politics. More than two thirds of the Georgian population voted for NATO membership. By voting for NATO, people sought to achieve two results: secure the country’s safety and restore its territorial integrity. The first was more realistic than the second, but dreams, hopes and illusions have no boundaries, especially for Georgians.

The authorities floated these possible benefits very intensively in their PR campaign, thus creating a pro-NATO mood. This was seriously dented by the Russian invasion and its consequences. The likelihood of such complications, however, could have been seen in April at NATO’s Bucharest summit.

A paradoxical situation has emerged from Georgia’s drive towards NATO. It has become not a guarantee of safety but a provocation of danger, which has had catastrophic consequences. The phrase that ‘NATO’s doors are open for Georgia,’ and the statement that Georgia will definitely join the alliance, now cause ironic smiles when they are heard here. The natural question follows: when will Georgia go through these doors and join the organization, if ever? While it remains an idea, and the striving to prevent it remains a hard reality, Georgia will receive little benefit from being a possibly-one-day NATO member.

It would be very productive if Georgia received clear cut answer to the vital question it is asking. However, “If MAP is substituted by another formula, intensive dialogue could become deeper dialogue, and then even deeper dialogue, but this could last for ever, without anything emerging from it. This is dangerous because this process would be understood by Russia as being in its favour,” thinks former Ambassador to Russia Zurab Abashidze. Political analyst Archil Gegeshidze states: “since NATO entry has been delayed for an indefinite time and our security cannot be guaranteed by this organization, we should think of other, alternative mechanisms.” Presumably he means a bilateral agreement with the USA in the first instance, which would hopefully provide the missing guarantee.

Here in Georgia people are sure that the Bucharest summit’s refusal to grant Georgia MAP gave Moscow a green light to do what it wanted. Very soon afterwards Russia introduced extra armed forces into the conflict zones, began railway reconstruction works in Abkhazia, openly violated Georgia’s air space, encouraged separatists to shoot at Georgian civilians and peacekeepers and later do what it did in August. Russian analyst of national strategy Vladimir Goriunov openly declares: “today, there is no force in Georgia Russia can rely upon. Therefore a Governor-General should be appointed in Tbilisi with dictatorial powers.” Many might smile at this eccentric suggestion, but be careful. Nobody could have expected the large scale and disproportionate aggression Moscow launched against its neighbour, or its willingness to violate the norms of civilized thinking by doing so.

NATO can decide whatever it likes. But whatever it does will not alter one sad but fundamental truth. Beware of Russia. It does not want Georgia to be on the MAP.