Georgia is waiting for a signal from the west - Georgia's Defense Minister's article on WST
04 November, 2015
Georgia is waiting for a signal from the west - Georgia's Defense Minister's article on WST
The Wall Street Journal has published an article about Georgia's aspirations to NATO, written by Defense Minister of Georgia Tina Khidasheli.

A country ready to embrace NATO needs to know it will be welcomed.

Although the international community is rightly concentrating on the conflict in Syria, it’s important for Europe not to forget about matters of security closer to home. Russia has still not fulfilled the Minsk agreement it signed in February regarding Ukraine, and it continues to support the breakaway
republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. It also continues to meddle elsewhere in the Southern Caucasus.

To promote European security, we need the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to make courageous decisions at the summit in Warsaw next July. Specifically, NATO must agree on a membership action plan for Georgia or declare that such a plan is no longer a step toward eventual membership. Russia cannot be allowed to have a veto on which democratic countries get to join the Atlantic alliance.

At a security conference in Tbilisi last week, there was widespread praise for Georgia’s reforms and its role as a security exporter. My country has contributed the second-largest number of troops, after the U.S., to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. We still have 870 servicemen there.

Georgia also supports other European Union peace-keeping efforts. Last year we provided the second-largest troop contribution to the EU military mission in the Central African Republic. We are also the host of a new NATO training facility.

Georgia’s security is based on the principles of engagement and partnership. In a more connected world, we need to engage. We simply cannot turn inwards and pretend conflicts in other parts of the world don’t affect us. And in a world where power is more fractured, global security can only be the result of a collective effort. No one country, not even the United States, can act alone as a global policeman.

Partnership is embedded in the Georgian DNA. This is why we are fully committed to our goal of full European and Euro-Atlantic integration. As Europe faces mounting threats from the east and south, Georgia wants to help promote stability on the Continent and ensure that our country is an oasis of domestic stability in a troubled region.

Just two decades ago Georgia was an isolated country torn by civil war, with few functioning institutions of modern statehood. Today we have made dramatic progress, underscored by our signing of an association agreement with the EU. As part of Europe, Georgia will join this fabric of peace and stability, which can only benefit our neighbors and make all of us more secure.

We understand that lasting security can only be achieved on the basis of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The independence of the judiciary and freedom of the media are also important elements that the Georgian government understands are vital for internal stability. This is why over the past three years we have prioritized democratic reforms, including the adoption last year of Georgia’s first comprehensive long-term Human Rights Strategy and the enactment of a new antidiscrimination law.

Like any other country, Georgia has its internal problems. But behind the normal political bickering in any democracy, we have a united nation ready to embrace change in order to achieve our European and Euro-Atlantic ambitions. We are ready for deeper EU and NATO integration.

The last NATO summit, in Wales, offered Georgia only modest rewards for its efforts. Today Georgia is a clear regional leader and a rare example of what the West can achieve through soft power.

Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic path is irreversible. Our citizens are now expecting a clear signal from NATO that our future lies in the Atlantic alliance. After the Warsaw Summit, there should be no intermediary steps left between Georgia and NATO.

By Tina Khidasheli
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