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NATO's 'Open Door' Policy and Georgia

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, November 19
The new strategic concept of NATO has not been established yet but the open door policy remains a disputed issue among the allies, US Assistant Secretary of State, Philip Gordon told the media in Washington on November 17. “I think there is the consensus in the alliance that the open door is the right policy. The enlargement has been useful for both: NATO and the aspirant countries thus this policy should continue”, Gordon said expressing the full support of the US towards Georgia’s aspiration to join the alliance.

NATO has clearly expressed its position concerning Georgia which differs from Russia’s approach; its member countries want to see the relevant implementation of the August 2008 ceasefire agreement by Russia. “The US supported the resolution of the alliance adopted at the Bucharest Summit, which stressed that Georgia and Ukraine would by all means become the members of the alliance,” Gordon said, stressing that NATO-member countries fully acknowledge Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will remain on the same position at the Lisbon Summit even despite their cooperation with Russia on particular issues. “US also have consecutive cooperation with Russia but Georgia remains the issue on which the United States and Russia still have differences,” he added.

“Continuing the job of resetting the relationship with Russia is among the United States’ highest priorities and one of its biggest challenges”, Alexander Vershbow, US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs said in his speech at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Service on the same day. Russia, according to Vershbow is “still important as a partner on the front lines of many of the key security challenges” which should be handled with care for achieving defined common objectives.

“The US continues to remind Russia to follow its commitments under the August 2008 ceasefire agreement and we have stressed that all sides, including Russia should make steps forward to ensure stability within the region”, Vershbow said explaining that there are no military solutions to the conflicts. Stressing that US would continue supporting Georgia’s transformation along Euro Atlantic lines, US Assistant Secretary of Defense highlighted the importance of the institutional reforms in Georgia which would promote the county’s aspiration to join NATO.

While Georgian battalions are serving in a peace mission in South Afghanistan, the US continues supporting the NATO open door policy and the Bucharest Summit decision according to which Georgia should eventually receive NATO membership. “Even efforts at cooperation that don’t always bear as much fruit as we might hope, can help in reducing some of the uncertainty about Russian interests and intentions and by reducing their uncertainty about ours,” Vershbow said ahead of the NATO Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, this week, Vershbow said that

Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze explained to The Messenger that Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO has been in the schedule of the upcoming Lisbon Summit which according to the statements made by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen won’t consider any particular changes concerning Georgia. “This fact is both positive and negative because it means that Georgia’s chances remain the same…” the analyst told us stressing that Georgian-Russian-NATO relations are the main factors defining Georgia’s chances to enter the alliance.

In order to make Georgia’s integration to NATO a reality, the sides should precisely follow the obligations defined by the Bucharest Summit. “But Russia is against any enlargement within the alliance thus NATO refrains from any complications not only for the sake of the alliance but Georgia as well,” Sakvarelidze told us explaining that each attempt to enlarge NATO has been met with the throwing of bombs and “occupation-like operations” from Russia.