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Georgia-NATO: prospects of cooperation

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, June 15
When the doors are open you can go either in or out. NATO’s doors are open for Georgia and we have know this since 2008. We also know that Georgia will eventually become a NATO member. The only thing we don't know is when we will go through those doors. No one on earth can answer this question and it is unlikely that it will happen in the near future if ever, think the Georgian population.

Ukraine, which was until recently attempting to enter NATO together with Georgia, has now changed its mind. Its new leadership, to the utmost pleasure of The Kremlin, has renounced its aspiration to join NATO. Georgia’s leadership keeps saying that there is no alternative to NATO for Georgia , which has again confirmed its support for Georgia and is ready to actively assist it in conducting further reforms which would help the country meet NATO standards. However Russia is categorically against Georgia entering NATO and punished Georgia in August 2008 for having a Western/ NATO/US orientation. This was a punitive measure taken by Russia to act as a lesson to any disobedient neighbour. It was also a message to NATO which, unfortunately, it accepted.

We have said many times that there is a general public disappointment in NATO, which has been partly created by the unrealistic and rather romantic and naive assurances the Rose Revolution administration and its leader gave the Georgian people. The promise of Georgia’s swift entry into the alliance proved unrealistic. NATO did not become the guarantor of Georgia’s territorial integrity and security. Georgia was not a NATO member country in 2008, so it could not have expected this anyway, but the paradox is that Georgia wanted to join NATO to protect itself from Russia but only provoked Moscow by doing so. NATO is asking Georgia to undertake additional reforms and democratise. Those of us living here know very well much remains to be done in this respect, and this was the slogan of the ruling National Movement during the recent elections. But ordinary Georgians ask whether the Baltic countries, Bulgaria or Romania complied totally with Western standards of democracy when they were allowed into NATO. Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that the recent local elections were a sign of hope, Georgia is doing its best and its participation in the ISAF programme in Afghanistan is a significant, particularly as it is not a NATO member. But all this is not enough, NATO says.

Democracy is a process which is continually being perfected. What level of democracy must Georgia attain to enter NATO? What are the criteria? NATO countries' Defence Ministers recently unanimously upheld Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but what does this mean? Will Georgia’s territorial integrity be restored immediately by NATO members? Of course not. So what now?

Georgia’s leadership claims that the country will continue to pursue Euro-Atlantic integration and this course is unalterable. This policy is still supported by the majority of Georgia’s population. But promises should be result-oriented, and it is difficult to see what sort of result the Government can realistically promise.

During Soviet times we were fed by promises of a sunny future under Communism just over the horizon. The trouble is, you never reach the horizon. Unless the laws of physics have somehow changed, Georgia's dream will remain a dream until Europe genuinely shares it.