Georgian-NATO Relations: Reading Between the Lines
25 September, 2015
Georgian-NATO Relations: Reading Between the Lines
In every bit of analysis pertaining to Georgia-NATO relations, Russia’s invisible hand must be taken into account. Though politicians and diplomats reiterate that Russia has no veto right on Georgia’s desire to join NATO, thus far Russia was and still is the implicit veto holder.

(Published in Military Technology, July-August 2015)

“If the answer from Warsaw is negative, you can take my word for it, and I hate to say it – there will be immediate implications.” - Tina Khidasheli

Alexander Glushko, Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO, said in February 2015 that NATO’s intention to establish a training center in Georgia was a provocative step. “The emergence of NATO military facilities in Georgia is a step towards escalation of tension and worsening of regional security,” he claimed. Sergei Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said on February 18th, 2015, that Russia would take measures to prevent the “negative effects” of “never-ending attempts to drag Tbilisi into NATO.” NATO’s official response about the training center in Georgia not being aimed against Russia was dismissed by Moscow.

In remarks at the recent meeting of NATO officials in Antalya, Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, criticized Russian policy in the region. “Nothing can justify what Russia has been doing in its neighborhood – namely in Ukraine, Crimea and Georgia,” - Cavusoglu said. Responding to Cavusoglu’s remarks, Glushko focused only on the possibility of Georgian membership. He downplayed the possibility, although noting that NATO has been increasingly co-operating with Georgia. Glushko said, “There are many realistic people in NATO and many understand the risks of a thoughtless open door policy. Such development of events could result in serious consequences for European security. I believe that common sense will prevail and such thoughtless attempts will be abandoned.”

Apparently, French and German leaders heeded the advice and as a result, are so far refusing to let Georgia join NATO. Furthermore, in March 2015, Georgia was shocked when French President Francois Hollande said unambiguously that, “France currently opposes admission of any new [NATO] members.”

Public support for Euro-Atlantic integration in Georgia is broad, but is it big enough? According to a survey conducted by the U.S. NDI in late May 2015, 68 percent of Georgians approve of the government’s stated goal of joining NATO, down from 72 percent in August 2014 and a high of 82 percent in November 2013. Does it mean that the support is declining? Although Georgia remains an aspirant country for NATO membership, the process of finally joining the organization has been slowed down. Hollande’s statement reinforces the sense of unease and doubt in Georgia over its aspirations.

“Russia must be engaged, but for the Euro-Atlantic security architecture to retain its integrity, there must be deterrence,” - Davit Usupashvili

Even though Georgian politicians are doing their best to maintain a cheerful demeanor, the reality is a bit different. Mindia Janelidze, former defense minister, when asked about Georgia’s expectations from the next NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016, said that it was too early to talk about specifics, but consultations aimed at receiving “tangible results” from the next year’s summit were already ongoing. Janelidze also said the following: “Naturally, we are already preparing for the Warsaw summit. We are preparing the MoD’s proposals, but this issue goes beyond just the MoD [competence] and so these proposals will be finally outlined as a result of consultations with the MoFA and the government. But we are thinking about it and we have already launched consultations on this issue with some of our partners in order to get tangible results from the Warsaw summit.”

The big question remains: What if tangible results are not achieved? Then what?

Addressing delegates at a NATO Parliamentary Assembly session in Budapest on May 18, Davit Usupashvili, Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, said that NATO should either give a MAP to Georgia or declare that MAP is no longer a precursor to an eventual full membership. Speaking at the same event, Alexander Vershbow, NATO Deputy Secretary General, said that he could not provide any timetable for when the open door will be reached. Usupashvili responded that it was a crucial time for making sure the open door policy does not become a revolving door policy, where aspirant countries are stuck in a rotation. “In 2014 we heard in Wales that Georgia’s relationship with the Alliance ‘contains the tools necessary to continue moving Georgia forward towards eventual membership.’ Many in Georgia interpreted these words as Georgia being given a de facto MAP. After a journey of more than 12 years, I do not want those people to be disappointed with prolonged talks on whether Georgia deserves MAP or not. Russia must be engaged, but for the Euro-Atlantic security architecture to retain its integrity there must be deterrence,” Usupashvili said.

Even though Tina Khidasheli, the current defense minister, clearly reiterates the matter of MAP, she also warns of dire consequences by saying: “If the answer from Warsaw is negative, you can take my word for it, and I hate to say it – there will be immediate implications.” It appears, however, that Georgian demands and warnings are highly likely to fall on deaf ears in the NATO member states.

In the dance of three with an invisible Russia present behind the curtain, the path to NATO’s door remains as tricky and full of IEDs as before. What NATO should do about bringing Georgia into the alliance and what Georgia should do to leave Russia empty-handed is beyond the scope of this letter.

Author: Eugene Kogan
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
October 2020
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31