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Georgia and NATO Standards

By Messenger Staff
Friday, September 16
Currently there are discussions in Georgia over the degree to which the country compiles with NATO standards. Nobody is under any illusions that there is much to be done in this regard but analysts and politicians widely differ in their opinions about exactly how much and in what direction.

On September 13, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Audronius Azubalis, stated that at the NATO Chicago summit in 2012 the organization should give clear cut support to Georgia’s NATO aspirations. According to Azubalis, Georgia’s participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations provides grounds for the alliance to establish a new mode of relations with Georgia. The minister did not want to specify concrete steps but he spelled out that Georgia should be recognized for its spending on military improvement and development and the provision of support in Afghanistan.

On November 9-10, Georgia will be visited by NATO Secretary General Anders Fog Rasmussen. The major goal of this visit is to find out what the situation on the ground is in the country. “They want to find out how fast the country is developing towards complying with NATO standards in terms of macro economic figures, democratic reforms, the defense budget and our participation in military peacekeeping operations,” stated Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze.

The MP Petre Mamradze said that the major priority for NATO will be to simply improve the relations between Russia and Georgia. As for speculations that Rasmussen’s visit will facilitate Georgia’s NATO membership, Mamradze believes that actual membership is not on the agenda at all.

Analyst Irakli Sesiashvili mentions that the action plan between NATO and Georgia is a confidential document and therefore it is not known publicly what kind of reforms is required from Georgia. According to Sesiashvili, the major obstacle to Georgia’s NATO aspirations is the fact that there has not been due attention to the country's democratic development. He suggests that the Georgian leadership has been backsliding on democracy and it is practically impossible to return to a democratic direction because such a development would be a risk for the current administration.

It is clear then that Georgia’s NATO integration is delayed indefinitely for the time being. There are different obstacles in the way. One of the first among them is Russian pressure on NATO members to oppose Georgia joining the alliance. And, certainly, Sesiashvili is also right that Georgia’s quality of democracy is at issue. However, of these two issues there is only one that the Georgian government can do something about. Russia will never support Georgia's accession to NATO – that is a fact of life. But democratic standards can be improved and with forthcoming elections approaching the Georgian government can prove, as much to NATO as to its own people, that it is serious about allowing free and fair political competition.