NATO Toasting Georgia

When I have a happy moment, and get some leisure time to think three-dimensionally i.e. high, deep and wide, I usually arrive at a quick conclusion that it is not only Georgia who learns from the West, but the West who is learning from Georgia- in a very fair and mutually beneficial way.

We, Georgians, are learning from our Western friends how to cultivate human rights, democracy and modern economy on our ancient soil of continual strife and plight, and they are learning from us how to make toasts to any occasion that comes up. Examples are aplenty, but the last instance of toasting was one of the most illustrious: at the final meeting of the historic spring session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Tbilisi on Monday, its President mentioned Georgia as the host country no less than thirty times in his closing three-page speech. This is an outstanding political achievement on our part, unless the internationally accepted diplomatic protocol only courteously predefined the number of mentionings of our lovely little Georgia in that most respectful and politically sensitive text!

The entire speech, which carried a toastish veneer for Georgia, read like an open recognition of Georgia’s capacity to be a member of the most powerful military alliance in the world. Yes, I am indeed talking about our precious darling NATO. We all heard from the elevated rostrum that Georgia belongs in the Euro-Atlantic community of nations and that the Georgian people feel that their fate and their future lies with NATO and the European Union; we enjoyed x-number of complimentary comments that Georgia’s Armed Forces have demonstrated their outstanding professionalism and ability to integrate with NATO forces, and Georgia’s contribution to successive NATO missions in Afghanistan in particular has been truly remarkable, confirming once again that, today, Georgia remains by far the largest non-member force contributor to the Resolute Support mission. It was awfully nice to receive a promise that continuing effort to support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will also remain one of the key priorities of cooperation between Georgia and the Western world, and it was also heard that, every day, Russia seeks to grab a little more of Georgia’s land, and the powers that be are fully united in our support.

The session underlined a number of times Georgia’s exceptional contribution to NATO and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and pledged support for a democratic and sovereign Georgia whose future belongs in NATO. What else is a toast if not these words assembled together?

I wish I’d had a chance to catch the facial expression of the Russian leader; to witness the astonished and irritated visage of Georgia’s occupier, registered at the moment of hearing that toast so built on lavishly optimistic laudations of Georgia. I would rather not see in that expression the ominous sparkle that usually ignites fire, though. The greatest irritant for our adversaries in this case could be the fact that Georgia has never been so close to the gates of the Alliance. Talks and even attempts to let Georgia into the European family of nations have always been in place, but not this hot and this sincere. There must really be brewing something special and curious out there, but it scares me to death.

Meanwhile, the much-talked-about Tbilisi session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly has pushed many of us, even the wisest of the politicians and the most educated of political commentators, into counting our chickens way in advance. Let us first say thanks for having Georgia back on the map of serious international discussions – this already means something big – and then proceed with not terribly overstated and embellished consideration of our chances to be where, as it was corroborated with confidence, we belong. Georgians say that the toast is a prayer, and some prayers sometimes come true, with God’s help. But let us not forget that God will only help those who are ready to help themselves.

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

01 June 2017 18:08