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We never asked for MAP, Defence Minister claims

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 9
“I have never asked for the Membership Action Plan (MAP), I have asked for NATO membership. MAP is a thing of the past for Georgia,” Georgia’s Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli said in response toNATO Secretary’s Special Representative James Appathurai, who stated that Georgia will not be granted MAP at the upcoming NATOsummit in Warsaw.

“Since the United National Movement party left government, we have never asked for MAP, and this is not our goal. There is neither a need nor desire for it. Our aim is NATO membership. I have never asked for MAP at ministerial meetings, I have asked for NATO membership. Everything that helps Georgia to become a NATO member is my duty. I would like to return from Warsaw representing a country which is deemed to be equipped with everything needed to be ready to enter NATO once the window opens,” Khidasheli said.

As NATO Secretary’s Special Representative James Appathurai has declared, if he was from a NATO-aspirant country, for him it would be important to integrate into NATO and not receiving a MAP. Appathurai made his statement in an exclusive interview with Georgia’s Public Broadcaster.

According to him, the Membership Action Plan was created as a practical instrument and it should never have had such political importance as is bestowed on it today.

“From my point of view, practical mechanisms must be focused on and not political ones. There has been no agreement achieved regarding the MAP issue; speaking frankly this is the one we hardly control. We control practical implementations,” he said.

“I think the process will be harmed if MAP is named as the main goal at each political meeting. I think it creates a sense of disappointment amongst the public,” he said.

In response to a question as to why NATO members are not ready to make a political decision, Appathurai said some of them are afraid that granting MAP without security guarantees will increase the risk to Georgia. “Therefore, they prefer to be focused on its implementation,” he said.

According to him, he is waiting for the necessary steps to be taken strengthen the ‘essential package’ already granted to Georgia. “This is Georgia’s responsibility as well as that of NATO. I can say as a NATO representative that we have not done what is to be fully done. We continue working with the Georgian side in order to be sure that you do everything you need to,” he remarked.