Empty Words or Plausible Progress on Georgia’s NATO Track?
Georgian Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli, during her visit to the US last week,claimed that the war in August 2008 occurred because NATO refused to enlarge.
She said the decision of NATO not to expand was perceived by Russia as a green light to launch military activities in Georgia.
“Subsequently, in 2009 the [world] began to forget about all of this and started discussions with Russia anew, a fresh partnership,” she underlined, adding Russia was once again considered a partner. “However, since the Ukrainian developments took place, it is obvious that no partnership with the Russian side is possible,” she maintained.
It seems that the first female defense minister in Georgia, who is sometimes criticized for her diplomatic approach to Russia, calls on NATO to take palpable steps toward eventual membership for Tbilisi at the Warsaw Summit of the Alliance, next year.
“Georgia was promised eventual membership at the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008, but did not receive what it hoped would be a clear first step toward membership - a Membership Action Plan (MAP) - at either of NATO’s two most recent summits, in 2012 in Chicago and 2014 in Wales,” the minister says, adding that this sends “a very wrong message” to Moscow.
In this position, it might be forgotten by the Minister that the Georgian Dream’s Russian appeasement politics and the government’s obscure messages towards the alliance and lack of proactive politics in this respect, may have hindered Georgia in its NATO ambitions.
The Georgian Minister spoke during her visit to Washington where she met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, which was, she claimed, a visit aimed at “strengthening the partnership”’ with the United States and “searching for answers, advice, and support” for Georgia’s NATO path.
She has said previously that Tbilisi would like to see the NATO Warsaw summit recognize that Georgia has already put in place all of the mechanisms for cooperation with the alliance that are envisioned by a MAP, which offers assistance and support to countries wishing to join the alliance. She has also called for the Warsaw summit to make a “political statement that Georgia has passed one step and now is on the track to membership.”
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