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US Congresspersons Release Strong Statement of Support for Georgia in NATO

By Ernest Petrosyan
Tuesday, October 11
“The Delegation of the United States to NATO supports the granting of a Membership Action Plan [MAP] to Georgia” – so reads the statement of the chairperson of this delegation, Michael Turner, a congressman. “On behalf of the US delegation, and the NATO parliamentary assembly, I would like to firmly support the aspiration of the Georgian people and their government to join NATO”.

Turner's statement continues: “NATO’s door should and will remain open to all European democracies that share the values of the Alliance, which are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, are in a position to further the principles of the Washington Treaty, and whose inclusion can contribute to the security of NATO”.

According to Turner, Georgia has been contributing to NATO operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and has proved to be a reliable ally. He also noted Georgia’s impressive progress in democratic transformation, strengthened governance, enhanced rule of law and a free market economy.

“While the NATO Bucharest Summit and subsequent commitments with regard to Georgia’s NATO membership remain firm, I am confident that it is time to move forward. The Allies should reaffirm that Georgia’s NATO integration is an irreversible process. Therefore I fully support a full and complete Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Georgia at the NATO Summit at Chicago in May 2012” stated Tuner noting that the Georgian government should continue its ambitious reforms despite the security challenges Georgia faces.

He also added that the United States House of Representatives recently began the consideration of House Resolution 374, which supports the initiation of negotiations on a free trade agreement with Georgia, and urged other alliance member states to take a similar course with respect to strengthening trade ties.

Yet, Turner also approved of the fact that the US recently approved a commercial arms sale to Georgia. “All NATO states should look to arms sales with Georgia that can add to the collective defense. We should keep in mind Georgia’s tremendous contributions to the NATO ISAF forces in Afghanistan. A stronger Georgia is clearly in the interest of all NATO members”, the statement says.

“This is more proof of Georgia’s progress on the way to NATO. Our Western allies positively assess necessary reforms. The position of the US congress will be taken into consideration by the White House Administration. We do hope that the White House Administration continues its activity with other member states to achieve a decision which will be a real step forward on the way to NATO”, said the State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze.

“This statement gains even more political weight since the 2012 NATO summit will be held in Chicago, where we hope to hear more supportive statements regarding Georgia’s NATO integration,” stated Batu Kutelia the Deputy Head of the National Security Council.

Military analyst Irakli Aladashvili also welcomes such statements, meanwhile remaining skeptical regarding MAP perspectives at the 2012 Chicago summit. “Moscow’s influence has increased even more on various NATO member states which most probably will block Georgia’s MAP aspiration. It is an issue I would like to be mistaken on, but I do not think Georgia will be given a MAP in Chicago, though much can be changed in a year,” Aladashvili told the Messenger.

Turner's statement however was the second fillip in recent days regarding Georgia’s membership of NATO after French President Nicola Sarkozy announced before thousands of Georgians that, “Georgia should be able to freely express its aspiration to become a member of NATO if its people so desire and the members of this alliance, who are not against anyone, will support this process by the same rules used during the Bucharest Summit." Such international support, after a long period of negative feedback, is definitely music to the ears of the Georgian leadership and serves to enhance Georgia’s desire for membership and believe in bright prospects, however, it should be noted that MAP can be given only through a consolidated decision of all member states, and Moscow will almost certainly find another member state to put pressure on in order to block MAP for Georgia.