“The NATO-Georgia joint training and evaluation center is unique to the region”
03 September, 2015
“The NATO-Georgia joint training and evaluation center is unique to the region”
As the NATO-Georgia training center opened in Georgia, the VOA Georgian service spoke on this and other relevant matters, including Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations to Laura Linderman, who is a Research Fellow with the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center of the prominent, Washington DC-based U.S. Atlantic Council. Her research focuses on Georgian politics, economics, and foreign relations.

Read the Georgian version of the article on Voice of America website.

– Let’s start this interview by discussing
the NATO-Georgia training center. What is the significance of this joint center for Georgia’s NATO aspirations and for the region, if any?

– The NATO-Georgia joint training and evaluation center is unique to the region. It’s designed to support and increase interoperability of Georgia, the Alliance and partner countries. Also, it is connected to the recent NATO military joint exercises in Georgia called Agile Spirit that involved 250 soldiers from Bulgaria, Georgia, Slovenia, Romania and Latvia. Both the center and these exercises are the result of a decision made last year at the NATO summit in Wales to provide a Substantial Package to Georgia.

“It was a way for NATO to encourage Georgia to keep the faith.”

Two things are happening as consequence of this package. Last year’s decision by NATO to open its base in Georgia and hold these exercises was a means of showing increased support for the country while still not offering MAP. It was a way for them to encourage Georgia to keep the faith. But I think the Alliance is also trying to strengthen its position in the Caucasus as a counterweight to Russia.

“MAP is an important process, but not the only way to get into NATO.”

– What is the next step in realizing the NATO aspirations that Georgia has to satisfy before it goes to the Warsaw summit in 2016?

– As far as the exact technical details go, I don’t know. I think that Georgia can choose between two strategies of positioning itself ahead of the Warsaw summit. The leadership could explore creative means of getting NATO membership with or without MAP. Mgeotv.geAP is an important process, but not the only way to get into NATO. They could start pushing a strategy to have NATO declare in Warsaw that Georgia could become a NATO member at any time without MAP. This summit promises to be very important because there are several other aspirant countries who are expecting decisions, and Georgia is one of them. I think this is the reason why you see the government taking a more aggressive stance on demanding the Alliance’s acknowledgement of Georgia’s significant progress in political and military reforms. I think Georgia’s done a lot and it’s the decisions that NATO itself needs to make that are holding it back; obviously, this is tied deeply to the situation with Russia.

Laura Linderman: “Georgia’s security challenges are stagnant and slowly getting worse”

– In today’s presentation, Georgian Prime Minister said that Georgia continues pursuing a constructive policy towards Russia and this joint training center with NATO is not intended as a threat to any neighbors. How would you assess the current Georgia-Russia relations and what challenges do you see in this sphere?

– Georgia’s in extremely difficult position with regards to Russia. You can see that there’s renewed Russian aggression in the form of Moscow advancing the line between South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia and other moves. It shows that Russia really hasn’t changed its attitude towards Georgia. They are still continuing the policy they adopted even before 2008. Georgia’s inability to stop Russia and the inability of the West to provide anything other than strong words of condemnation suggests that Georgia’s security challenges are stagnant and getting worse. I think it’s a tough fight for Georgia to be in and what I would recommend to Georgian government is to highlight the strategic importance of their location as much as possible. Georgia is an important central part of the East-West energy transportation corridor that provides pipelines, ports, railways and highways to bring energy and other resources from the East to the West. This corridor has a lot of potential as a free and easy way for global and energy trade, so highlighting its importance is vital.

– On borderizaton problems in Georgia. Do you think that the international community is well aware of this problem and if yes, what’s the solution?

– I think that they are aware. I also think the Georgian government has done a reasonable job. They’re attempting to make this issue known again and again at both international forums and when talking with their counterparts in the West. However, the atmosphere is extremely tough right now. There’s a lot of ambivalence in the West and people are not really interested in getting involved. It’d be prudent to target Germany, for example, along with the traditional allies from Eastern Europe who always support Georgia and get them to continue highlighting these huge problems. It’s a tough spot and I don’t know whether there are any easy, quick solutions to it.

– What do you think the United States can do to promote Georgia’s NATO dream, so to say?

– Again, it’s going to be tough because we are having presidential elections next year and the U.S. government is pretty distracted by other challenges. I think Georgia should probably focus more on countries such as Germany and Turkey and convince them that it should be accepted into NATO. Georgia could also focus on creating a stronger bilateral military relationship with the U.S. – this would definitely help their NATO chances in the long run.

– Last question. How would you assess Minister Khidasheli’s visit to Washington last week?

– I think her trip was very successful, credible and moved the relationship forward. I would assess it favorably and say that more visits from Georgian officials to the U.S. would be helpful. It would simply be great if the president could come as well. Visits such as this one should definitely continue.

Read the Georgian version of the article on Voice of America website.

By Anna Kalandadze, VOA Georgian Service
Other Stories
Adam Kinzinger: I Strongly Support Georgia's Immediate NATO Membership
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Chairman of the Georgian Caucus of Congress, is one of the main authors of critical letters received by the Georgian government in recent months.
Matthew Bryza: "I think it’s a shame if Georgia doesn’t participate in this digital hub project"
Matthew Bryza worries new telecommunications law targets Caucasus Online and will block major investments that could make Georgia the strategic center of a “digital silk road”
Czech Ambassador: “Georgia among the best countries worldwide when it comes to combating Covid 19”
"Czech contribution in monitoring COVID-19 in Georgia was invaluable and hugely important” - Georgia’s Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze praised the Czech Republic’s contribution during Friday meeting with the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia, H.E. Petr Mikyska as the Georgian and Czech sides met to discuss various aspects of joint collaboration.
Russian MFA Statement About Lugar Research Center-Another Disinformation
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia responds to the statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding Lugar's laboratory.
UN Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution On Occupied Territories Of Georgia
The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the occupied territories of Georgia - "Cooperation with Georgia" within the framework of its 43rd session.
Kurt Volker about 20th of June: People Can’t Forget That
Given that one year has passed since June 20, 2019, it is interesting to see how the West assesses the developments in Georgia during this one year and what expectations it has for the October parliamentary elections.
Eastern Partnership Beyond 2020- Context and Expectations
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) marked its 10th anniversary in 2019. The round dates always come with reflections and new resolutions for the future.
"8 March Agreement Is Very important For Georgian Democracy"-Carl Hartzell
The 8th March agreement concerned not only the change in the electoral system but justice and the impermissibility of political partiality in electoral processes, - stated the Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, Carl Hartzell during his video broadcast.
Donald Trump Congratulates Georgia on Independence Day
The President of the United States of America Donald Trump sent a letter of congratulations to the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia on Independence Day.
US Ambassador Congratulating Georgia on the Independence Day
US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan has congratulated Georgia on the Independence Day.
Georgia's President Warns Covid-19 Crisis Could Trigger Russian Aggression
Georgia’s president has warned that Russia’s struggle to contain the spread of coronavirus and an economic crisis compounded by an oil price collapse risk is triggering new Kremlin aggression beyond its borders, - reads an article published by Financial Times.
Creation of Maps Violating Georgia's Territorial Integrity To be Considered Illegal
Production, advertising, use, and transportation of maps and other objects reflecting the violation of the principle of territorial integrity of Georgia will be considered as an illegal act.
Turkey Starts Accepting Health Tourists From Georgia
Turkey has started accepting foreign patients from several countries, including from Georgia.
Georgia Has The Greatest Support In the World From EU-Carl Hartzell
A true friend is known to be in trouble, and we have proved that we are true friends, ”-EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzel said during an online meeting with members of the European Business Association.
The EU Council Has Approved a Package of Financial Assistance to Georgia
The Council of the European Union (EU) has approved a package of emergency macro-financial assistance for 10 countries as part of its Neighborhood and Enlargement Policy.
The US Ambassador Stresses The Importance of Fair Judiciary System
We would like to see more American companies invest in Georgia and more Georgian companies in the United States said US Ambassador Kelly Degnan during a virtual press conference.
"One More Political Prisoner Is Still Waiting To Be Released"-McAllister
The MEPs expressed their opinions about the political situation in Georgia at the discussion of the report on the implementation of the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia.
Promoting Georgia As a Safe Destination For Tourism
“Georgia – a safe destination” is a message that Georgian diplomats should send to people in their countries, - Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said while talking to Georgian ambassadors abroad via a video conference today.
UN To Allocate USD 1 Million To Support COVID-19 Crisis in Georgia
The United Nations will allocate USD 1 million for Georgia to help the country better respond to the immediate health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the most vulnerable groups from the devastating socio-economic impacts of the health crisis.
U.S. Senators Express Concern Over The Expulsion of American Businesses From Georgia
U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Congressmen Judy Arrington, and Markwayne Mullin have written to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, expressing concern over the expulsion of U.S. companies and businesses from Georgia.
European Parliament Approves €150 Million Aid For Georgia
The European Parliament on Friday approved €3 billion in loans to help EU neighbors and partner countries deal with the fallout of COVID-19.
MEPs and U.S Senators Welcome the Pardon of Opposition Politicians
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili announced yesterday that she was pardoning Georgian opposition politicians Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili, which she said was ‘a very difficult decision’.
The Presidency of the Council of Europe of Georgia Received a High Assessment
According to the Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, the presidency of the Council of Europe of Georgia had a very high assessment at the international level.
Coronavirus Crisis is an Opportunity to Deepen Relations With the EU-Salome Zourabichvili
The President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili talked to the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö on March 14.
GEL Exchange Rate
Other Stories
On 26 May, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, joined celebrations in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
Violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Assad regime has been strictly criticized
Exactly one year ago, Georgia was granted visa-free travel with the European Union.
Georgia’s ex-president president Mikheil Saakashvili's supporters managed to free detained Mikheil Saakashvili in the center of Kiev.
The US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly congratulates Georgia on Independence Day.
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
GEL Exchange