Political flirt between Russia and NATO as opposed to Georgian hopes
18 November, 2010
Political flirt between Russia and NATO as opposed to Georgian hopes

Coming days will be rather important for Georgia. For now, the Summit of North Atlantic Alliance is expected to clarify whether there is a room for Georgia on the NATO map. On the other hand, things are not as simple as they appear. As experts suppose, the main agenda of the Summit is still likely to touch upon the relations between NATO and Russia. The background of such problems as Afghanistan, Russian arms and oil, and most importantly, political rivalry

of two giants, always overshadows the issue of Georgia; the latter always looks more like a straw in the eye.
Even though the official Tbilisi cherishes great hopes in connection with the Lisbon Summit, some Georgian experts believe that the civilized world is feeling no less than longing for the Kremlin’s alliance. The feeling stems from the nagging question of Afghanistan, which the Alliance is planning to leave in the next year, if everything is alright. To make it happen, NATO will need the Russian transit. For another thing, they eye the Russian arms too. Many expect that the Summit will finalize the questions of Russian military helicopters (which NATO wants to purchase in dozens) and transit of military goods from Afghanistan to fill Russian coffers with dozens of millions every month.
Therefore, it should not be ruled out that Russia and the Alliance would easily find a common language in Lisbon. This development must be a rather sweet scenario for underprovided Russia. Consider also that the Kremlin would also rehabilitate its image tarnished by the Russian-Georgian war, i.e. weakened stature and political prestige on the foreign diplomatic front, however painful this could sound for Georgia.


Yet, specifically what the official Tbilisi is to expect from the Lisbon Summit? Will the event generate specific results or prove to be a casual continuation of the old story lopsided towards the ill-fated list of Georgian responsibilities? Will the great gathering end in another goodwill gesture – more like a reminder - for Georgia, so that the latter remains invigorated and assured for hundredth time that the doors of NATO are still open?
Just prior to this sort of gatherings, Georgia finds itself in the sea of rolling warm words. If only something more definite follows them! But nothing definite follows, as a rule. At least, it has been this way till now. These empty words, albeit warm, reflect harsh reality of poor prospects. Only few days ago US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated during her official Washington briefing in tandem with the Lithuanian Foreign Minister that the United States defends its principles and continues support of Georgian territorial integrity. She also noted that despite improving relations with Russia, there would be no compromise on this issue.
“The Lisbon Summit cannot do miracles,” – the author of this direct assertion is a Georgian political expert Gogi Khutsishvili. He boldly concludes that recent developments indicate clear drift of Russia towards NATO membership.
Let us recall that Vladimir Zhirinovski, Leader of Russian Liberal-Democrats and a conduit of imperial thoughts and intentions, opined that Russia could take advantage of NATO membership, if it decides to join.
Meanwhile, President Saakashvili has nothing in his hands but hopes. Only hopes remain. Saakashvili expects that NATO will reaffirm its commitment to the Bucharest decisions. The Presidential hopes were relayed via Manana Manjgaladze, Press Speaker of the President. She explained that the Georgian delegation headed by Saakashvili will take part in the work of the Summit. It is also known that the Georgian President will meet with the leaders of Turkey and Czech Republic, as well as Prime Ministers of UK, Portugal and Austria.


Georgia is looking forward to the period similar to what happened after the break up of Soviet Union. At the time the former Soviet Union countries started banging at the doors of the North Atlantic Alliance quite successfully. Even though the Kremlin did not put up with the alienation of its “old friends”, NATO leadership managed to disregard Russia.
Now we have completely different picture. Today Europe, just like the Medvedev-Putin duet, is driven by mercantile interests. In the light of these circumstances the issue of NATO membership for Georgia looks to bear mediocre importance. The need in the help of Russia to deal with certain acute issues is of primary concern for Brussels. Among these issues Afghanistan stands out with its importance and urgency. Despite a number of shortcomings the Russian politcy has at an international arena, the Alliance has to strengthen partnership with Russia. In contrast, no compromise should be expected on Georgian NATO membership. Moscow is helpless here. Indeed, the Bucharest decisions will hold but many things will depend on the position of White House too. After Obama took the Presidential office, many have highlighted his reserved relations with Georgian Government. Consequently, Georgia is forced to resort to the ‘break-in-the-open-door’ policy till something clicks in Washington, Berlin and Paris. It is also the fact that we have to permanently feel and analyze every hop and lop in international politics.

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