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Knocking on NATO’s Door

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Friday, May 18
On May 16 in Brussels at NATO Headquarters, the NATO-Georgia Commission session was held. The session was attended by the First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs David Zalkaliani and First Deputy Minister of Defense Lela Chikovani.

The meeting was devoted to the issues of the preparation process for the 2018 Brussels Summit. At the session was underscored that the progress achieved by Georgia on the path of Euro-Atlantic integration must be adequately reflected at the Brussels Summit. It was noted by the representatives of NATO member states that Georgia is a successful aspirant country and the reforms carried out over the last few years will further bring the country closer to NATO membership.

The Georgian side provided the Allies with detailed information about the complex security environment created in the occupied territories of Georgia. Representatives of the member states once again confirmed their strong support for Georgia's sovereignty, territorial integrity and the policy of non-recognition of the breakaway territories. The Allies expressed their concern over the difficult situation in the occupied territories.

At the session the following topics were also discussed:

- The results achieved by Georgia in the reform process, including strengthening of democratic institutions, economic and armed forces.

- Georgia's policy towards resolving the conflict with Russia and a new peace initiative of the Government of Georgia, a "Step toward a Better Future" aimed at increasing engagement of citizens living in the occupied regions.

- NATO policy for strengthening the Black Sea security and Georgia's important contribution in this process.

- Ongoing reforms in defence and security field and plans for future development of the armed forces.

It was emphasized that NATO continues to support Georgia's Euro-Atlantic integration process.

I would like to remind you that, few days ago the National Security Council session was held in Georgia where the representatives of the government discussed the prospects of Georgia at the Brussels summit. At the session, which was attended by the President and Prime Minister of Georgia, all agreed unanimously that the reforms carried out by Georgia and the progress achieved for last years must be adequately reflected at the upcoming NATO summit. But arises the question: what will be considered as "adequately reflection of Georgia's progress" at the Brussels summit?

10 years ago, at the Bucharest Summit, Georgia had an expectation to get engaged in NATO membership action plan (MAP), but at the summit, few NATO member states voted against it, causing frustration among the Georgian population. After few months in August 2008, Russia started the war against Georgia and the reaction of the Georgian western partners caused more disappointment of Georgian society.

Even though at the 2008 Bucharest Summit, the Allies agreed that Georgia will become NATO member in future, the part of the population is pessimistic towards Georgia's perspectives. This is encouraged by the Russian information warfare in Georgia that uses all possible resources to inspire anti-Western attitudes among the Georgian population.

The greater the expectations before the NATO summit, the greater can be the frustration of the Georgian society. And yet what can Georgia expect from the upcoming Brussels summit? Georgia won't get a MAP, because not all NATO member states agree on this issue. Georgia can get another promise that at one day it will become a NATO member state, but the population has already been used to such promises.

At the upcoming Brussels summit, it can be defined to change the format of NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) and to involve the heads of the Governments in NGC discussions. This will be a big step for Georgia in the integration process, but in order to stop the influence of the Russian anti-Western propaganda on the Georgian society, it is necessary to make more effective steps than mere focus on NATO.