“MAP is not required“
24 September, 2015
“MAP is not required“
In policy community everybody knows this, but it’s the general public that does not know, that MAP is not required.

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

The Washington Heritage Foundation expert Luke Coffey has recently told the Georgian service of the Voice Of America that Georgia does not need a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to become a NATO member.

Mr. Coffey thinks that the United States should declare this clearly, so that the false
expectations disperse and the Russian aggression against Tbilisi is neutralized. MAP is an artificial obstacle and all the official and expert circles know this very well, Coffey says. He added, that before the NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, the United States should, as Georgia’s ally, distinctly state that it fully supports the integration of Georgia into NATO without a MAP.

Voice of America/Georgian: In your recent article, you said Georgia should proceed on its NATO integration path without a MAP, can you define the significance of the membership action plan and talk more about your idea?


Luke Coffey: I think there has been much emphasis and excitement on getting Georgia a MAP. It is an artificial construct that was created recently. There are many countries that joined the NATO alliance and they have never completed a MAP. Not only Georgia but we are guilty for placing too much focus on MAP, and Georgia not getting it is used by Russia as a propaganda tool against Georgia. And the reality is Georgia has a long journey to join NATO but MAP does not need to be part of that journey, it presents an artificial obstacle in completing that mission, and I think the sooner does the President of U.S. or the Secretary of Defense or our State secretary comes out and says MAP is not required, the better. In policy community everybody knows this, but it’s the general public that does not know, that MAP is not required.

Voice of America/Georgian: How would you describe US-Georgia bilateral relations in the defense sector and what more can US do to help it accede to the alliance?

Luke Coffey: I think Georgia has come a long way and it should be very proud of what they have accomplished in this relationship. The Georgians have been the main drivers in this bilateral relationship which is a sort of a unique situation because normally its America that is the driving force of the bilateral relationships but in this case its Georgians. But even if the relationship is solid, much more can be done: US can provide advanced defensive weapons to Georgian military such as javelin anti-tank weapons. You know if I were a Georgian soldier, I would find it awfully puzzling if I can go on YouTube and see a moderate Syrian rebel or moderate Libyan rebel using advanced anti-tank weaponry that was given by the West. But then those same weapons would not be provided to allies in Georgia, who has fought and die along American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan and has shown real commitment to Transatlantic community.

Voice of America/Georgian: You have also spoken on the lack of support to Georgia vis-à-vis NATO from European partners. Will the Defense Minister’s trip to European allies prove to mobilize lasting European support before Georgia goes to the Warsaw summit next year?

Luke Coffey: he will certainly build a momentum that has been slowly gaining, especially in light of what Russia is doing in Ukraine, including annexation in Crimea, but in terms of Europe, having a unified position-you know Europe is a very general term and often I get accused as an “American, trying to simplify Europe’s position”. When there is no single European position. I think for countries in Central and Eastern Europe, and to certain extent-UK, you can single out support for Georgia’s NATO aspirations and you single out a support for a deeper engagement between NATO and Georgia, for these countries. However support from the other countries, particularly in the Western Europe –France, Germany, Italy-let’s be realistic, they have cozy relations with Moscow and they do not necessarily want to rock the boat any more, which they have already had over sanctions for Ukraine, dealing with Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. So I do not think you will see as much enthusiasm from these countries, but this tour to Europe, made by the defense minister, can only bring positive results, she was visiting with some of the Georgia’s close allies and this will deepen some of the special relations that Georgia has with some of the European countries, but as we head to the NATO summit in Warsaw, we need to be realistic and that again going back to the question of MAP-we need to keep the momentum going, without imposing artificial roadblocks on ourselves, like MAP.

Voice of America/Georgian: How do you think US should or can respond to Russia’s moves in the two breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and react to the frequent “land grabs” there?

Luke Coffey: I think its puzzling that there still are some of the European countries, that do not recognize a presence of several thousand of Russian troops in those two provinces of Georgia as an occupation. If they are not occupying, then what are they doing there? They certainly are not on holiday. But I think in terms of the Russia’s recent border-creeps, I think we need to connect what’s Russia is doing in South Ossetia and what it did in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. I remember when Crimea was annexed, some of the policy makers were saying-Georgia could be next. I was like-what do you mean, Georgia was the first, Crimea was next, so we forget already what has happened and its happening even today.

Voice of America/Georgian: Do you mean that the international community has not learned much from the first incident until the second disaster happened?

Luke Coffey: Yes, it’s probably right and it’s likely that, if history is to anything to go- by its the international community that will forget the lessons learned from Crimea and Ukraine, and we will go back to the beginning. I think we need to make sure that when something happens, and when the piece of a sovereign territory is annexed-whether in Georgia or whether it’s in Ukraine, we need to realize that this is part of a larger design by Russia, and the timing of some of these events is no coincidence. The most recent Russian annexation into Georgia in July occurred a week after the Greek elections and a week before the Iran nuclear agreement was going to be signed in Vienna. So Moscow knows the international community’s focus is what’s happening in Greece over Euro, what’s happening in Iran over nuclear program, and they know they can get away with this staff.

Voice of America/Georgian: What’s your description of the Georgian villages that lie in the adjacent areas with the administrative boundary?

Luke Coffey:
I have made several visits to the occupied line, I saw a Russian flag, flying on the Georgian soil and what I saw was a clear division between the occupied Georgia and the rest of free, democratic Georgia. Which is a clear reminiscent of what we saw in Germany over the cold war. And I highly recommend to any policy-maker who has any doubt to fly to Tbilisi, where a journey can be arranged to the administrative border and you can see where the line is very clear where the region is occupied and where the region is free.

Voice of America/Georgian: What about the sanctions against Russia, that you previously said needed to be instituted over South Ossetia and Abkhazia incursions?

Luke Coffey: Well, yes, this is just another tool to show Moscow that this kind of behavior is not acceptable. Let’s not forget that Russia is still in violation of the Sarkozy cease-fire peace plan- it is still violating two out of the six points, the European Union Monitoring Mission cannot even monitor on the Russian occupied side of the boundary, and the Russian military have not pulled back to the pre-war positions so they are in direct violations of that. In addition to that, Russia has taken more land and there are cases when Georgians go to sleep and wake up and find out that the fence is makes them part of the Russian occupied territory.

Voice of America/Georgian: So given all of that, what are Georgia’s challenges ahead of the Warsaw NATO summit-challenges for public, and challenges for the government?

Luke Coffey: I think there are number of challenges and opportunities for both going for the nest NATO summit. I think, firstly, the government and the opposition on sides-they need to come together around this issue. Imagine, how great it would be to send a message to London, Paris, Berlin and Washington DC if you could see not only the Georgian defense minister, but the foreign policy spokesperson from the opposition, or the defense spokesperson from the opposition, making a visit to the next NATO meeting together, and show that the country is united, and the issue of the NATO membership is above politics. I also think that the Georgian government should start setting expectations for the Georgian public right now about MAP, and membership. If there is an enlargement its going to be for Montenegro and maybe for Macedonia. So Montenegro and Macedonia, joining NATO-that should be a success for Georgia as well, because this would mean Russia does not hold a veto for a third country’s choice of an alliance. So I think there are opportunities for the Georgian government and for the political class on both sides of the aisle and for all Georgians to come together on this issue. So I think there is an international consensus that Georgia is on the right track, how long its going to take to complete that journey is another matter. But as I said Georgians should be very proud of what they have accomplished, Georgia now receives more attention than any other NATO aspirant country, the NATO flag is now permanently flying in Georgia, there is a steady stream of exercises happening in Georgia among European, US and Georgian forces, but this journey requires a great deal of patience to reach an ultimate goal, but I am certain that few more years for Georgia, having a rich and proud history, is nothing at all.

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

By Anna Kalandadze, VOA Georgian Service
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