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Georgia will not need MAP to become a member of NATO

By Khatia Kardava
Wednesday, February 7
During the three most recent NATO summits (2012 in Chicago, 2014 in Wales, and 2016 in Warsaw), Georgia was to receive a Membership Action Plan (MAP) but did not. According to experts, since the Russian factor is still an issue, Georgian people will have to remain patient with the long process of obtaining a membership. They believe Government and Media should work on delivering right messages and more information so that the population is aware of the fact that the country is moving forward.

Georgia was first promised an eventual membership at the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008. Since then, the country’s commitment to membership has been reaffirmed at each subsequent NATO summit.

Georgia has been repeatedly proving its firm desire to join the alliance, it has paid a high price for its ambition to join NATO. The country participated in international peacekeeping missions and fulfilling NATO commitments. It contributed thousands of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and hundreds of peacekeepers to the Balkans and Africa. Even the Russian invasion and its aftermath did not deter Georgia from fostering closer ties with the West and becoming a net contributor to transatlantic security.

The alliance has been hesitant to give Tbilisi a timetable for accession. Not all members of the Alliance supported the country to their full potential. It is especially true for NATO members that have a close relationship with Russia and are wary of angering Moscow. Russia’s interests are still taken into consideration.

The Government of Georgia constantly asserts that the country is continually progressing towards the Euro-Atlantic path and the country's foreign vector is not changing. Opinion polls show the public backs membership, partly because they see the alliance as protection from Russia. According to the foreign policy expert, Director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, Luke Coffey, Georgian society expects the MAP and Russia will use the disappointment for propaganda.

“The frustration is widespread, as the false expectations on fast track NATO integration, created by the political elites, was not fulfilled,” said Kornely Kakachia, a director of the Georgian Institute of Politics.

It is noteworthy that MAP is not the only way for an aspirant country to become a NATO member.

According to the leader of the parliamentary majority, Archil Talakvadze, NATO’s parliamentary assembly discuss alternative ways for Georgia to join NATO.

"Of course, MAP is a tool for joining. This is a recognized instrument, but many of the authoritative speakers at the Parliamentary Assembly voiced their position that considering Georgia's development, MAP might be a slow mechanism. Therefore, in the political circles, inside the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, is considered a way for Georgia to join NATO, for which MAP is not necessary"- The leader of the parliamentary majority, Archil Talakvadze said.

Luke Coffey believes that Georgia does not need MAP to become a NATO member.

“It is important the leaders of Georgia begin to manage their expectations. No other aspirant country has so many initiatives with NATO as Georgia. Georgians should realize that they are on the right track. I think they should be patient; NATO membership is worth waiting for a few years. At the same time, the United States and its allies should continue supporting Georgia's membership in the Alliance.

In my opinion, expectations for membership action plan have not been healthy. Now, before each NATO summit, Georgians have expectations for MAP. Many countries have joined NATO without MAP. Until the issue of MAP is on the agenda, Russia can use it for propaganda. At the Brussels summit Georgia will not get MAP because some members of the alliance do not feel comfortable. However, MAP is not necessary for joining NATO. You do not need MAP," said Luke Coffey in an interview with the Georgian bureau of Voice of America.

NATO will hold on July 11-12, 2018. Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on October 20 that the summit will be held at the new headquarters of the Alliance, in Brussels.