|Georgia Keeping Up the Fight for NATO Membership in Washington|
|December 11, 2010|
by Joshua Kucera
Georgia's Deputy Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze visited Washington this week and matters military- and NATO-related appeared to top his agenda. Georgia is apparently flush from its success at the recent NATO summit in Lisbon, and are now trying to push the issue of membership in the alliance.
Baramidze did an interview with the Associated Press, in which he said he "wants the United States to outline the steps necessary for it to join NATO." Georgia "already behaves as if it were a member of NATO," Baramidze said, and said Tbilisi wants a "road map" for what it needs to do to gain membership.
To that end, he got some U.S. senators to sign on to a resolution supporting Georgia's territorial integrity. The resolution was introduced only yesterday and the full text hasn't yet been published, but the title is "A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate with respect to the territorial integrity of Georgia and the situation within Georgia's internationally recognized borders." It should be voted on within a few days, Baramidze told Rustavi 2:
"We should know the position of the United States how they see Georgia`s integration into the Alliance. We have heard the attitude of the Alliance members three times and it said that the NATO door was open for Georgia," Baramidze said.
And he got U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to publicly support the U.S. providing Georgia with arms. According to a release from her office:
“The U.S. and NATO support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian aggression. The security situation in Georgia remains fragile, and it is important that the United States provides Georgia with the purely defensive weapons it needs to deter any future attacks by Russian forces.”
That Ros-Lehtinen would say that is no surprise: She is vigorously anti-Russian, and submitted a resolution last year calling on EU and NATO countries to impose arms sanctions on Russia. But soon she'll be in an especially powerful position to do something about it: when the Republicans formally take control of the House of Representatives she'll be the chair of the Foreign Relations committee.
Baramidze's focus on arms provisions is understandable: It's not impossible to see the U.S. changing its tune on that, and it would be a concrete sign of support. But NATO is another issue. Of course Georgia doesn't want to be seen to be giving up on NATO membership. But the more time goes by, the further the possibility of full membership seems to recede into the distance. And by continuing to make NATO this high a priority in its talks with U.S. officials, Georgians can start to look desperate and unrealistic.
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