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The Upcoming NATO Summit

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Wednesday, July 4
Georgia is looking forward to the upcoming summit as an opportunity for further deepening the relations with NATO. There are different opinions about possible outcomes of the summit.

On July 3, the organization “International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy” (ISFED) together with The European Policy Centre (EPC), presented the report of NATO-Georgia relations named: “10 years after Bucharest: Why NATO should double-down on Georgian membership.” In the given work is discussed the results of NATO-Georgia relations and possible outcomes of the upcoming Brussels Summit.

“A decade on, NATO-Georgia cooperation has substantially deepened. The country now meets NATO standards in many areas: it has modernised its armed forces and interoperability between Georgian troops and the armies of NATO countries has increased. Georgia has contributed more to international NATO missions than many existing members and meets the Alliance’s defence spending target. Tbilisi has also undertaken reforms to strengthen democracy, eradicate corruption and ensure civilian control of the military,”-reads the report.

Although the Brussels Summit is an opportunity for Georgia to deepen relations with the Alliance, the results of the event could have negative influence on NATO-Georgia relations. While popular support in Georgia for NATO membership remains high, it could wane, if there is no progress in NATO integration process, especially with the risk that Russia will use it for spreading its anti-western narrative.

According to the authors of the publication, Brussels Summit is a chance for NATO to strengthen connections with Tbilisi, because Georgia is a reliable partner that shares common interests and values. It could be a strategic foothold for in the South Caucasus. Therefore, NATO should reaffirm its membership commitment and prove that no third country has a veto on its enlargement.

There are specific areas defined in the report, where NATO could strengthen cooperation with Georgia:

- Security of the Black Sea region - NATO should elaborate an ambitious vision for Black Sea, which should involve not only regional NATO allies but also cooperation with NATO-aspirants. NATO should include Georgia in any new initiative, including Black Sea air patrolling (similar to the Baltic Air Police Mission) that could be initiated by Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania.

- Countering hybrid threats: Strengthening cybersecurity cooperation is also crucial. A meaningful step would be to establish ‘Black Sea NATO Centre of Excellence’ focused on improving cybersecurity resilience both in Georgia and the rest of the region.

- Boosting defence capacity: The concept of ‘more NATO in Georgia and more Georgia in NATO’ should continue to be the cornerstone of the partnership. This could entail supplying anti-aircraft and air defence weapons and building up Georgia’s maritime capabilities.

- The Enhanced Forward Presence: Given Georgia’s excellent track record in serving alongside NATO troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Georgia should be invited to join the multinational battalion based in Poland.