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NATO issues in Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, November 8
NATO policy regarding Georgia’s membership has become a topic of serious speculation recently in Georgia. Of course this is fueled by the upcoming visit of NATO Secretary General Anders Fog Rasmussen to Georgia, but, as analysts suggest, this is also because of the forthcoming NATO Chicago summit upon which Georgia puts certain (we would suggest unrealistic) hopes. Some analysts suggest that there is another reason why NATO issues are currently being discussed widely in the country. This is because of the apparent desire of the ruling administration to counter balance this issue after the appearance of Bidzina Ivanishvili in the political arena. As soon as he appeared in Georgian politics the ruling authorities labeled him a pro Russian figure and it wants to contrast Georgia’s aspiration towards NATO membership with the position of Ivanishvili. At his recent press conference when asked about Georgia’s possible membership of the organization, Ivanishvili answered that due to Saakashvili’s policies, NATO membership is not possible in the near future for Georgia. Ivanishvili declared his intentions to cooperate with the republican party and Irakli Alasania’s political team. The western orientation of both these political entities is well known. Currently they keep repeating that Georgia’s future foreign policy prospects and the guarantees for its security are definitely attached to NATO. Member of Republicans David Berdzenishvili also agrees with Ivanishvili that because of the actions of the current government, Georgia’s NATO aspirations must be postponed. It is highlighted by opposition members that NATO membership is not gained only by military criteria but by a country’s democratic values as well. “we strive for NATO membership, but are not going to lie to the people, telling them that it will happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” David Berdzenishvili of Republicans said.

Some pro government analysts suggest that if Ivanishvili cames to power he will follow Ukrainian President Yanukovich’ steps. He will not refuse to join the EU. but would refuse to join NATO. This will be done to calm Russia.

At first glance such accusations might sound particularly critical. However, if we look at Georgian society currently we should note that enthusiasm for NATO membership has weakened. Many think that it is humiliating when NATO doors are open but one is not invited to come in. Besides, there is a realistic approach as well, as many understand from the NATO charter that Georgia has no chance to join the organization while it’s territories are occupied by Russia and that could last for many years if not forever. There is also the opinion that NATO accession is not vitally important for the Georgian population who are mostly preoccupied with social issues i.e. unemployment, increases in prices, low salaries and pensions and so on. Of course NATO has certain interest towards Georgia. Therefore some NATO members suggest that Georgia should be granted MAP. During Rasmussen’s visit to Georgia, on November 9-10 this week, we hope many things will become clearer.