NATO Declaration Urges Allies to Back Georgia’s Membership Hopes
By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Wednesday, May 30
On 11-12 July in Brussels will be held at NATO Summit. This event is of great importance to the overall security and development of entire Europe, as well as for individual countries, particularly NATO's aspirant states, for which each summit is a possibility for a further step toward NATO membership.
The closer the date of the upcoming summit, the talks about the possible results of the abovementioned event for Georgia are intensifying. The Government of Georgia has a joint position on this issue as the President and the Prime Minister after the Security Council meeting held a month ago stated that the progress achieved by Georgia, must adequately show on the Brussels summit.
The statement made by the Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili on May 26, about his expectation Georgia to become a NATO member state until 2021, reflects the importance of upcoming Brussels summit for the Georgian government.
Georgia can become NATO member state until 2021 in case if other members of alliance accept Georgia without obtaining the Membership Action Plan (MAP), which is a program designed to meet NATO's standards and prepare for possible future membership. Participation in the MAP does not prejudge any decision by the Alliance on future membership, however, it greatly facilitates the process.
In the last 10 cases, of NATO enlargement, all candidate states have had membership action plans. And after they obtained MAP it took them at least 5 years to become a NATO member state, and for some states, for example, Albania it took 10 years to join the alliance:
Montenegro- received MAP in 2009 and joined the Union in 2017.
Albania- In 1999, the country received a Membership Action Plan (MAP) and after 9 years, at the 2008 Bucharest Summit, the country received an invitation to join the alliance. On April 1st Albania became a full member of NATO.
Croatia received a Membership Action Plan in 2002 and became a full member on April 1, 2009.
Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, bringing the total membership of the Alliance to 26- participated in MAP since 1999 and officially became members of NATO on 29 March 2004.
However, as experts say, Georgia may become an exceptional case that can become a NATO member state without the MAP. Therefore, the results of the Brussels summit has a crucial importance for Georgia because it will determine the future prospects of the country.
The NATO declaration which was adopted at the spring session in Warsaw, strengthened the optimism of Georgia before the summit. The declaration states that NATO should continue its open door policy and confirm the right of partner countries to make independent and sovereign choice on foreign and security policies that is free from external pressure.
Georgia and Ukraine should be backed in their hopes to join NATO, according to a declaration signed at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Spring Session in Poland on Monday. The Declaration "urges the Heads of State and Government of the member States of the North Atlantic Alliance.
"The membership prospect of aspirant countries should be noted and at the same time, the membership criteria must be retained. The strong political and practical support for Georgia in the process of integration with NATO should continue and the political aspect of Georgia's NATO integration process should be advanced," reads the Declaration.
On May 29, the Foreign Minister of the breakaway region of Abkhazia reported that Syria has recognized the independence of Abkhazia and the so-called "South Ossetia”. This is the result of Russian foreign policy and the challenge for the Western world. Consequently, at the Brussels summit, NATO can respond to this aggressive foreign policy of Russia and prove that despite Russian efforts, the alliance supports Georgian territorial integrity and its aspiration to join NATO.