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Georgia's proposed NATO entry still irritates Russia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, March 4
NATO is satisfied with its current relations with Georgia - James Appathurai, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia announced during his visit to the United States, on March 3.

The NATO envoy said the Bucharest resolution on Georgia and Ukraine, which said that Georgia and Ukraine would become members of the alliance, remained in force. He also assessed the last year of cooperation between NATO and Georgia as positive.

He commented on Russia’s negative attitude towards enlargement of the organization near Russian borders, “there are NATO member countries, which are very close to Russian borders, like Turkey and Norway, thus I cannot understand why Russia is so negative regarding the issue. I cannot comment on giving MAP or not, as I don’t have an answer on the issue, however I can see that the annual national programme which we have in Georgia is oriented on reforms and these reforms should bring the country to NATO membership.”

Based on Apparathurai, NATO is not ready to create a common anti rocket system with Russia, however the organization is ready for collaboration in this and other issues with Russia, “we are thinking more and more what we can do together and less what we can do against one another. Russia and NATO will collaborate to protect security in Europe. As for the creation of a common anti- rocket system, the Alliance member countries have expressed clearly that a united anti-rocket system with Russia, where NATO and Russia would be responsible on their sectors is not in the Alliance's interests. At the present moment we have a “psychological “movement towards Russia, meaning preparation of the country to perceive the Alliance in a new way.”

However, Russia is not ready to change its viewpoint. Russia will not allow the neutralization of its own nuclear potential. The declaration was made by Dmitri Rogozin, Russian representative in NATO, on March 3. He said Moscow is unsatisfied with the refusal of NATO to the equal role of the Russian Federation in the European anti rocket system construction. Rogozin said this is not some minor disagreement in this area but a major problem, “We disagree to our joining the readymade product that will be made without our interference and participation.”

According to senior analyst in transatlantic issues of German Marshall Fund of the United States, Constanze Stelzenmuler, the previous politics of NATO, EU and the United States towards Georgia was not acceptable and a new strategy is needed towards Georgia,” the August war in Georgia stopped Western European countries' involvement in a transatlantic security agreement. The main issue is not which side started the war; the main point is how Putin and other leaders were talking about what happened. Accordingly these made a lot of people in Europe realize that Putin’s Government is extremely unpleasant and intolerant. I think that this made the Europeans change their attitude regarding the agreement.” The analyst considers that NATO’s policy towards Georgia was wrong, “I think that NATO's enlargement policy towards Georgia was wrong, as this country, based on its constitutional foundations, neither with its inner stability nor inner ruling direction was ready for membership.” According to the analyst, Georgia is trying to achieve success and it is obvious, thus the international organizations and the United States should find a new way to support the country and pay attention to more significant issues, “it is crucial that the EU stop shying away from conflict resolution and security, not least for the sake of its own credibility in the region. If the U.S. will help here, fine; certainly Europe can use American advice and support. But this is our job. Again, as the Russo-Georgian war showed, a bit of firmness from Europe—especially when backed by Washington—goes a long way. This is also a field where the EU’s Common and Security Policy badly needs some new ideas. Here is a suggestion: an EU version of NATO’s Partnership for Peace, to support security sector reform.”