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NATO very far away from Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, January 29
Georgia’s struggle to obtain a NATO Membership Action Plan reached its culmination in 2008. It looks like this dream is over. Both Georgia and Ukraine have now been refused one twice, in April and December.

Some Georgian analysts think that NATO aspirations have cost Georgia dear. They irritated Russia, and the Bucharest summit denial encouraged the Northern Bear to provoke and launch a high scale military assault on Georgia which has resulted in the recognition of Georgia’s breakaway territories as ‘independent states’ by Russia and Nicaragua.

Georgians have read with much alarm the statement of Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski that NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine is a very distant prospect. What makes this statement especially concerning is that in 2009 NATO will have a new Secretary General and the Polish Foreign Minister is the most realistic candidate for this position. Georgia analysts even think that his statement is part of an election campaign, which implies he would not say it unless he thought a majority of NATO members do or will agree with him.

It is likely that NATO is seeking to create a consensus that the two countries should not be received into the Alliance, but made to wait for a period so indefinite it might stretch far further than hope. Sikorski supported his position by several arguments, such as that NATO is tired of expanding in an eastward direction and the world economic crisis hinders the process of expansion. We can add extra ones: NATO has started to thaw its relations with Russia and both sides need each other. It has also been suggested that the Obama administration will be less insistent on Georgia and Ukraine acceding to NATO.

It is obvious that NATO officials will never acknowledge that an unwillingness to irritate Moscow is behind their apparent decision. They repeatedly say that NATO’s doors are open for both countries and they will definitely become members one day, but they do not specify even approximately when. The Kremlin meanwhile feels itself victorious. One can see the faces and hear the intonation of Russian officials from Medvedev, Putin and Lavrov down, including Duma members and less important functionaries. The Empire is coming back: this is the subtext of their speeches and written on their faces.

Russia has shown the world that it will ignore the existing world order by occupying almost one quarter of the territory of another sovereign country and establishing ‘independent states’ there.

Russia has shown Europe that it can suffocate its countries by launching a “gas attack,” cutting off the natural gas supply. In Georgia it not only won the war but received an extra economic benefit, as Enguri power station is now under its management.

To sum up: NATO will not provide any extra security guarantees to Georgia in the near future. However it could help facilitate the implementation of democratic reforms in the country, if it is serious about helping us reach NATO accession standards. On February 4 Brussels will host a NATO council which will give us additional material for consideration.