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MAP refusal consequences

By Messenger staff
Tuesday, November 25
There is every indication that most probably Georgia and Ukraine have little chance of receiving a Membership Action Plan (MAP) from NATO this December. Why does this matter?

Presumably all the parties to this decision will underline that this does not mean anything and that both countries will eventually become NATO members. But such an action will certainly further encourage Russia’s imperialistic ambitions, as the previous refusal did. The domestic opposition will also use a refusal to even more seriously criticize the administration, blaming it for this and everything else, creating further instability in a country already defeated in war. The worst consequence, however, will be the increased sense of frustration towards the West in general, and NATO in particular, in Georgian society, which has pinned much of the nation’s hopes on joining the alliance.

There is a strange belief in society that NATO is obliged to protect Georgia for some reason. NATO has no obligation at all towards Georgia. Indeed Tbilisi and Kiev have already become a headache for NATO, because this body does not want to admit openly that the two aspirants’ entry into the alliance was blocked by Russian pressure. Despite claims by NATO officials that no third country can influence its decisions, the Kremlin exercises a regional superpower “privilege,” and hinders Georgia’s approaches to NATO through economic and other means. The Russian Defence Minister recently stated that if Georgia continued to court NATO it would have more problems than it had in August. What would be worse than August aggression? Nuclear attack ? The occupation of the whole country? NATO does not want to get involved in the very sort of conflict its own refusal to grant MAP is likely to create.

The NATO Ministerial meeting on December 2-3 in Brussels will answer many questions. The Ukraine’s President stated recently that NATO enlargement is of vital importance for wider European security. It is also the only guarantee of Ukraine’s independence, and he same could be said of Georgia. MAP does not mean NATO membership, but granting one signifies that this message has been heard and taken into account, and that NATO values these countries more than whom they might offend.

Military analyst Kakha Katsitadze expresses his doubts that Georgia will be granted a MAP and thinks that around 10-15 NATO members will vote against this. Meanwhile Moscow is sending rather specific signals. On the one hand it refuses to cooperate with the current Georgian leadership, and on the other it suggests some relaxation of its position, though on terms which are unacceptable. The last Russian Ambassador to Georgia, Kovalenko, recently stated that Russia is ready to establish natural good neighbourly relations with Georgia. On the surface this is fine. But he then adds that Georgia’s population should realize that Tbilisi has deviated from the historic road. For 200 years Russia protected Georgia and guaranteed its territorial integrity, Kovalenko says. What this means we have seen for the last 16 years, and specifically in August. To predict that a MAP denial would make the Kremlin even more aggressive one does not need to be a fortune teller.

Of course our Western friends are upset that the country’s leadership could not avoid the trap set by Russia and was dragged into the conflict, of course there are many shortcomings in the country, of course we don’t know what advantages MAP will bring to Georgia. But we know for sure that not granting MAP will further destabilize the country and give it more problems from outside as well as inside its borders.