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Obama says Georgia’s NATO membership is not in agenda

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, March 28
Barak Obama states that there are no immediate plans for expanding NATO, and Georgian-Ukrainian membership of the organization is not being currently planned. The US President made this statement on March 26 at the EU-US summit in Brussels.

Obama stressed that one of the reasons why Russia carried out aggression against Ukraine might be the country’s potential aspirations to join NATO.

“I know that Russia, at least in the background, has suggested that one of the reasons they’ve been concerned about Ukraine was potential NATO membership. On the other hand, one of the reasons why Ukraine has not formally applied for NATO membership is because of its complicated relations with Russia. I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon, obviously,” President Obama said.

The US President emphasized that the United States is ready to support Ukraine in its elections, economy and to continue to isolate Russia in response to the actions that it has taken.

Georgian officials claim that there was nothing “disappointing” in Obama’s statements. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili ensured that the statements were “absolutely adequate, based on reality.” He stressed that the government should not create illusions in its people as the previous government did. “We will continue our reforms and coming closer to Euro-Atlantic space,” Gharibashvili stated.

Georgia’s State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Aleksi Petriashvili believes that the upcoming NATO Summit would be positive for Georgia.

"What is most important is that NATO and its 28 member countries are unanimous in the belief that Georgia’s contribution to international security missions and Georgia’s progress in democracy should be properly reflected on the organization’s decision,” Petriashvili stated.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze stated that Georgia is following the path to NATO with the belief that one day Georgia will become a NATO member country, “but no one should be surprised if this does not happen at this Summit.”

Member of the opposition United National Movement, Zurab Japaridze, says that Obama’s statements are caused due to the “failure” of Georgian diplomacy. According to him, much had been done for Georgia’s NATO membership under the previous government. However, the current Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now unable to undertake an active policy in terms of NATO.

Analyst Kakha Gogolashvili states that through his statements, Obama avoided more escalation in Ukraine and Georgia.

“It was a very timely and preventive statement. If Russia decided on more aggression to Ukraine and Georgia, the Federation would justify its steps through the claims as if the countries are becoming NATO member states,” Gogolashvili said.

Founder of Georgian Reforms Associates, Elene Khoshtaria, says that Obama’s statements do not mean that Georgia would never become a NATO member state.

According to her, the government should work with the US administration, protesting such statements and achieve recognition that the position does not reflect the States many years’ position.

“Our politicians should also work with Congress for protesting the statement, and make NATO to make right messages in the near future,” Khoshtaria states.