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US Congressmen propose a resolution affirming US support to Georgia's NATO membership

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, March 3
US Congressmen Ted Poe and Bill Keating proposed a draft resolution affirming the support of the United States for Georgia's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the US House of Representatives.

The lawmakers presented the document at the joint briefing held after the meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili.

The Congressmen praised Georgia’s contribution to global peace and security and the NATO’s ISAF peacekeeping mission and call on Washington and its allies to speed-up the process of Georgia’s integration into NATO.

The document says that Georgia is a reliable partner and ally and the United States should intensify its efforts to grant the Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia in 2014.

“Whereas the Government of Georgia has met the basic standards for accession, even as specific reforms continue, and has consistently displayed its willingness and ability to meet the responsibilities of membership in NATO”, it is said in the draft. The document also speaks about Russia's illegal activities across the occupation line. It underlines that "Russia continues to erect physical barriers along the Administrative Boundary Lines of the occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where Russian troops continue to be stationed despite a commitment to the 2008 ceasefire agreement to withdraw to pre-conflict positions and that Russia has not reciprocated to Georgia's unilateral pledges for the non-use of force.”

Congressman Poe and Congressman Keating believe NATO membership will help Georgia to progress on its democratic reform agenda.

The resolution says NATO officials have numerously acknowledged the progress Georgia has achieved in recent years.

“General Knud Bartels, Chairman of the NATO MC emphasized Georgia’s significant progress in achieving its ambitious defense reforms, expressed the Committee’s strong support for the reforms and its confidence that the transformation is comprehensive, solid and irreversible… The NATO Military Committee strongly supports these reforms and looks forward to strengthening military cooperation, both in terms of operational engagements and interoperability in order to maintain the beneficial partnership we have built throughout the year,” The draft reads.

The Congressmen call on Washington to supports Georgia’s aspirations to join NATO, recognizes the significant benefits of closer economic and political ties between NATO members and Georgia, which will spur economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions and norms, and bolster the rule of law in the South Caucasus region, as well as other countries in Eastern Europe. In addition, the draft resolution asks the Government of Russia to respect the rights of countries to make their own sovereign choices with regard to international partnerships, including joining NATO.

Commenting on the draft, Congressman Poe said Georgians are looking towards the West and the international community should recognize their interest in democracy and freedom. The Congressmen are concerned about the Russia factor in the Caucasus and believe that in the case Georgia is not granted NATO membership, Moscow will continue expanding its influence in the region.

Both parliamentary the Majority and Minority welcomed the draft resolution and expressed their gratitude for the U.S support.

Georgian Dream coalition (GD) says Prime Minister Irkali Gharibashvili had a very successful visit to the U.S and the draft resolution proves it. The government says Georgia has approached NATO membership and it may be granted MAP in the near future. Lawmaker from the GD, Irakli Sesiashvili said the U.S not only supports Georgian integration with NATO, it will also help the consolidation between NATO member countries to ensure they grant Georgia MAP.

United National Movement opposition party calls on the government to ensure Georgia receives even larger international support. MP Giorgi Vashadze says Russia is unpredictable, and Georgia needs a larger number of international partners to ensure safety of the country.