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Biden's nominee for Secretary of State supports Georgia's membership in NATO

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, January 21
Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. His nominee for the post of the country’s first diplomat, Antony Blinken, appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday and spoke about his top priorities. To be appointed Secretary of State, Blinken needs to have his candidacy approved by the Senate. In his speech, Blinken spoke about the priorities of the next administration and answered questions from senators.

During the hearing Blinken said that he remains committed to NATO enlargement and Georgia's accession.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has been opposing NATO's open door policy for years, also asked Blinken about Georgia's membership in NATO. Secretary candidate said he would support Georgia's membership if "the country meets the membership criteria and contributes to our common security."

"If you [Georgia's accession to NATO] were successful, then we would be at war with Russia now," Rand Paul told the secretary-general as he responded.

"On the contrary, Senator. In terms of NATO membership, I think, in fact, there is a reason why Russia is aggressive towards countries that are not in NATO and under the umbrella of NATO, and there is a reason why Russia does not attack countries that are members of NATO," Blinken replied to Republican Senator.

Skeptical of NATO's open door policy and opposed to irritating Russia, the senator went on to say that if Georgia were to join the alliance, Russian occupation would trigger NATO Article 5 and send American troops to defend Georgia.

"We have seen in the past that countries that have joined NATO are no longer Russia's target," Blinken said.

Anthony Blinken has long been a confidant of US President-elect Joe Biden. They worked closely with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2002-2008 and then during Biden's vice presidency with the Obama administration, when the next secretary of state was the vice president's national security adviser. From the beginning of 2015 until January 2017, he held the position of Deputy Secretary of State. Blinken is a 58-year-old experienced diplomat. He has held various leading positions during several administrations.