US supports but speaks of lack of consensus
17 April, 2014
US supports but speaks of lack of consensus
The US supports granting the Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia at the NATO Summit in Wales in September. However, Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs stresses there is no consensus within the
allies on the issue. “Georgians are well aware that there is no consensus in the Alliance and that they have work to do to convince, particularly some of our western European allies, of their worthiness for the MAP,” Nuland stated.
Nuland emphasized that the Georgian government strives to discuss the issue directly with individual allies. The US official admits that signing the Association Agreement with the EU will deepen Georgia’s relations with foreign countries and have a positive impact on how they assess Georgia’s worthiness of MAP.
Meanwhile, supporting strong signals have been made by various US congressmen and senators. The American congressmen Michael Turner once again called on the US Government to support granting Georgia with the MAP at the upcoming NATO Summit. US Senator John McCain reiterated that he firmly supported increasing Georgia’s defense capabilities and granting a Membership Action Plan to Georgia. McCain is sure that Georgia’s MAP would be a “strong message” to Russia that pressuring other countries was unacceptable.
Georgian state officials keep stating that MAP is essential for the country. Davit Usupashvili, Parliament Chair of Georgia, says his country “could disappear” from the world map “if abandoned” by NATO.
Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze ensures that intensive discussions are underway in terms of Georgia’s next step on its path to NATO integration. “Everyone actually agrees that this step will be made. NATO allies are expected to take this decision perhaps in June, but it is not either ruled out that discussions on the issue to continue in months ahead of the September Summit,” Panjikidze states.
Irakli Alasania, Defense Minister of Georgia, states that Georgia has carried out active consultations with those countries, which refused granting MAP to Georgia in 2008. Alasania claims that the situation has changed “dramatically” since 2008 and many steps have been taken from the Georgian side to deserve a favorable appreciation from NATO.
“Not only the number of skeptics has decreased, actually there is a consensus among the members that Georgia deserves a next step. What this instrument, this next step, might be it should be agreed in next few months,” Alasania states.
The opposition United National Movement is unanimous over the threats from Russia on Georgia’s NATO path. The opposition also states that the coalition undertakes political pursuit on the opposition members, and the process will hinder Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
Lincoln Mitchell, an Associate Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, told Georgian Journal that Georgia has been getting mixed messages from NATO in recent weeks. According to Mitchell, the Russian aggression in Ukraine has raised awareness of the security concerns facing Georgia and has also created an environment where some in NATO want to make a statement against Russia.
“Georgia could be a beneficiary from that. Nonetheless, there are still some in NATO that are cowed by Russia or lack confidence in Georgia’s future. My view is that giving Georgia a MAP is a positive step that lays out the path and conditions necessary to get into NATO. It is much more productive than amorphous promises than eventual membership,” Mitchell stresses.
Kakha Gogolashvili, Head of the European Research Centre, told Georgian Journal that much depends on Ukrainian developments and internal situation in the country.
“On the one hand, the situation in Ukraine might assist and disturb granting MAP to Georgia, on the other hand, if there is no consolidation inside the country we will be in a very uncomfortable situation,” the analyst stated. Gogolashvili noted that declaring a moratorium on detentions from the Government’s side during the election period was a positive step, encouraging a peaceful environment in the country.
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