The messenger logo

Hollande’s words please pro-Russian groups in Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Friday, March 6
When the French president stated that NATO's enlargement was not on the agenda, it was music to the ears of Georgia’s pro-Russian forces, and saddened those supporting the country’s NATO and EU membership.

Francois Hollande said Paris currently opposes NATO expansion.

Because NATO membership requires the consent of all members of the alliance, Holland’s words mean a closed door to NATO for Georgia.

NATO’s theoretically ‘open door’ has frustrated the Georgian population. The membership process has been drawn-out, tedious and disappointing for Georgia. If the organization really does not intend to admit Georgia into the NATO club, Georgia should have clear information about it.

Of course such a response might discredit of Georgia’s pro-Western forces and the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. However, a direct response would be better than continually being strung along.

Meanwhile, pro-Russian opposition leader Nino Burjanadze was thrilled with Hollande’s statement. She stressed that the words were one more confirmation that Georgia will not become a NATO member.

“Those in Georgia who claim that we have a chance to become a NATO member state are liars. The NATO representatives and the Western leaders have stated very clearly that they are not going to accept Georgia in the alliance,” Burjanadze said.

The US Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland refrained from making critical comments, and mentioned that Georgia has done its utmost to become an alliance member in the near future.

NATO membership was one of the main priorities of the previous and current government.

Georgian-NATO relations took root in 1992, when Georgia joined the NATO North Atlantic Cooperation Council. Georgia revealed its aspiration to become an alliance member in 2002. In 2014, at the NATO Wales Summit, Georgia failed to get the organization’s Membership Action Plan (MAP), instead we were given a substantive package of cooperation, which, according to NATO officials, would hasten Georgia’s pace to NATO.

Many in Georgia think the country applied for NATO membership to protect itself from a possible assault from Russia. However, Moscow’s attack and occupation of Georgian territories highlighting that it did so in order to not to allow Georgia to become a NATO member. Now, almost 20% of Georgia’s territory is under Russia’s control. Moreover, the Kremlin threatened Tbilisi, saying that it would take extra measures not to allow the independent country establish a NATO training center on its territory. Under this situation, the French president’s words send a clear and positive message to Russia, who will feel entitled to act with impunity against its neighbors.