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NATO, Russia, Saakashvili and deciding Georgia's future

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, May 30
In the wake of the NATO summit in Chicago last week, some analysts have drawn parallels between it and the 2008 summit in Bucharest. As many believe here in Georgia, NATO's refusal to grant Georgia a MAP in Bucharest was a major reason why Russia attacked Georgia in August of the same year. Four years later, the Alliance re-affirmed that Georgia will become a member - although again without a MAP commitment. Immediately, Moscow has responded with threats and warnings.

On May 26, while inaugurating the new Parliament building in Kutaisi, President Mikheil Saakashvili stated that the upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia are being targeted for intimidation and disruption by Russia, as that country is holding a broad military exercise concurrent with the vote. Saakashvili asserted that everything Russia does is to prevent the next NATO summit from being an enlargement summit for Georgia.

The President said that this is done deliberately, with the goal of overthrowing the Georgian government, and that "certain forces" within Georgia are also trying to "deviate" from the country's path to democracy. He, of course, was implying Georgian Dream and its leader Bidzina Ivanishvili are pro-Russian, yet there has never been any evidence of this presented in public. In fact, the attendance at the Georgian Dream rally in Tbilisi on May 27 suggests that the Georgian people do not believe that Ivanishvili is a "Russian project".

If there is to be another military conflict with Russia, it will certainly close the door to NATO membership for years to come - and potentially even extend the life of Georgia's current administration. Therefore, holding elections to a democratic standard is in the best interests of both NATO and the Georgian people.