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Georgia welcomes NATO Parliamentary Assembly

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, April 7
The situation in Georgia’s occupied regions and ways to peacefully regulate the Georgian-Russian conflict were the main subjects of the meeting between Georgian Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze and NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) members on Tuesday.

The Minister welcomed the creation of the Georgia-NATO Inter-Parliamentary council, saying that it is “one step forward” in Georgia’s NATO integration. “We need the support of the NATO delegation members in order for Georgia to meet Alliance integration standards. NATO-Georgia relations are moving forward. Setting up the NATO-Georgia Parliamentary Council is very important,” the Minister said. The council was created to coordinate the activities of the NATO PA related to Georgia.

The first meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Council took place at the Georgian Parliament on Tuesday. After it Vice Speaker of Parliament Mikheil Machavariani said that the council would play an “important” role in Georgia’s NATO integration process. “MPs from different countries now have an opportunity to learn more about the democratic reforms in Georgia,” Machavariani noted. Georgian politicians have a “clear will” that Georgia should become a NATO member, he said. “This is an important fact and the NATO delegation members became convinced of this,” Machavariani stated, adding that the NATO PA members will make their own evaluations at the end of the visit. MP from the Christian-Democratic Movement Nika Laliashvili said meetings with NATO representatives are a good opportunity to show the real picture of the situation in Georgia to Western partners.

The Georgian politicians also commented on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to abolish the commission on Ukraine’s NATO integration. Mikheil Machavariani expressed hope that “times will change and Ukraine will turn to NATO again.” The election platform of Yanukovich was that Ukraine should not be a member of any block, the MP said. “Ukraine has a President elected by the people who considered his promise. Now the President is fulfilling his promise,” Machavariani stated, adding that “unlike in Ukraine, there is big support for NATO integration in Georgia. No changes are expected in this respect in Georgia.”

Giorgi Baramidze also ruled out Ukraine’s refusal to join NATO having any influence on Georgia. “The issue of NATO integration is up to the Ukrainian people, and the decision should be made by the Ukrainian Parliament, Government and President. As for all the decisions made in Bucharest, they remain unchanged. Whether or not Kiev says no to NATO integration, this will not reflect on Georgia,” the Minister stated.

However, some analysts suggest the decision of the Yanukovich administration has made Georgia’s NATO integration prospects more “obscure”. “As the integration of Ukraine and Georgia used to be discussed in one package, after the decision of Yanukovich the West will have to work out a new formula for Georgia,” analyst Irakli Sesiashvili said, adding that it is “doubtful” that the Alliance will “bother itself” with finding new ways to justify Georgia’s NATO integration. “For NATO the integration of Georgia and Ukraine together was more attractive. Georgia on its own is less interesting for the Alliance, because our country has more problems than we imagine,” Sesiashvili noted.

Another analyst, Archil Gegeshidze, suggested that the abolition of the NATO-Ukraine Commission does not mean that Kiev will cut all relations with the Alliance. “There will be no commission, but cooperation in other formats will strengthen,” the analyst said. “We all knew that Georgia’s NATO integration would not happen in a short period of time. However unlike Ukraine we still have a wish to join the Alliance. So, Georgia should carry on moving towards NATO at the same pace as before,” he noted.