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Still moving towards NATO

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, November 24
The Foreign Ministers of 28 NATO countries will meet in Brussels on December 3-4. NATO spokesman James Appathurai stated on November 19 that at this Ministerial the granting of Membership Action Plans (MAPs) to Georgia and Ukraine will be discussed. However Georgian analysts are sceptical that this country will be granted MAP. They have become more realistic about our prospects of joining the organisation, but it is still acknowledged that cooperation with NATO reinforces Georgia’s statehood, as this is the only way Georgia can protect itself from the northern threat.

Chairman of the Committee for European Integration of the Georgian Parliament Davit Darchiashvili thinks that discussing MAP for Ukraine and Georgia is of importance to NATO as well. Closing the doors of NATO to these countries would discredit the alliance itself, he says. Georgians realise now that quick accession is not going to happen, so we should not expect this and then get disappointed. Accession is a long term process and we should take as long as we need, thinks Darchiashvili.

At the meeting in Brussels on November 18 between NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Georgian State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Gia Baramidze the cooperation between two sides was assessed as positive. Baramidze stated that the alliance requires the strengthening of democratic institutions in Georgia. Great attention will be paid to the outcomes of constitutional reform and amendments to the election code, strengthening the freedom of the media and most of all the results of the local elections. Baramidze acknowledged that the elections in Georgia should be fair, and not provoke any complaints. He also stressed that the so-called Second Channel of Public Broadcaster will be established as a political channel expressing an opposition viewpoint, which will be beneficial for the Parliamentary as well as non-Parliamentary parties. The country should also continue its reforms in the court system, the defence sphere and in combating corruption. Very significant documents concerning defence and national security should also be adopted.

It should be mentioned that NATO’s principled position on promoting democratic reforms in the country will be very important in further outlining the relations between the alliance and Georgia. It is very important that NATO unanimously supports Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which are major issues of dispute between NATO and Russia. Rasmussen recently confirmed once again that during his visit to Moscow in December he will repeatedly demand that Russia respects Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and having said that it is logical that NATO also takes some public steps to help Georgia develop in the proper way so giving this support does not embarrass NATO later on.

Baramidze stated that NATO support cannot yet counter the results of the Russian aggression and occupation in itself, but if The Kremlin knows very well that there will be no concessions on respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity it will also be forced to respect them in the long term. What ‘respecting territorial integrity’ actually means to Russia is a debatable point, but if it sees it can’t go forward, it may prefer going back to standing in the same place.