Georgia’s Prime Minister: We will get NATO MAP in 2014


From Joshua Kucera, Bug Pit:  Georgia’s prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has said that he intends to get a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) next year. Getting MAP — which would be a substantial step towards eventually gaining membership in the alliance — has been the Holy Grail for Ivanishvili’s foe, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. But Saakashvili and his allies have spared no effort to tar Ivanishvili as a crypto-Russian agent who will lead Georgia away from its Western geopolitical orientation. And while Ivanishvili has repeatedly declared his intention to continue to work towards NATO integration, this is the first time that Ivanishvili has laid out such a specific goal vis-a-vis the alliance. He made his comments at an event celebrating Georgian Armed Forces Day on Tuesday, reports

“Next year we should undertake a very vigorous step and get at least MAP,” PM Ivanishvili told the audience…

“We probably won’t be able to get more than that, but we have strictly set MAP as a target and next year when there is a gathering of NATO [leaders] we should undertake a powerful step in this direction,” Ivanishvili said drawing applause from the audience. . . .

So, is getting MAP by the end of next year a realistic goal? Saakashvili claimed last year that NATO had been close to offering MAP to Georgia, but it’s not clear whether that was wishful thinking. Leading up to Georgia’s parliamentary elections last year, NATO officials repeatedly said that a successful conduct of the vote would be rewarded. The elections went off better than almost anyone expected, with a peaceful transfer of power, and so Georgia would seem to stand to get something for that. But on the other hand, there is still significant institutional resistance to Georgia becoming a full member of NATO, no matter who is in charge. . . .

So will this end up with Georgia getting a NATO MAP?

From Civil Georgia:  He [Ivanishvili] also said: “We should become NATO member state and those [Georgian] soldiers who now serve in Afghanistan… contribute most of all to this deed [of NATO integration].”

Some of his cabinet members, including Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, although saying that they share optimism of the PM, were still more cautious in their remarks about prospect of receiving MAP next year.

“We have a reasonable ambition that through its reforms, which are underway in the defense, security and rule of law, Georgia will be ready to undertake a powerful step and get closer to NATO. What kind of step it will be, what the name of this integration will be is up to NATO to decide… I share optimism of our Prime Minister; it will require a huge work in order to get desired results,” Irakli Alasania said.

“I do not want us to create exaggerated expectations, but working round the clock can make everything possible,” Alexi Petriashvili, the state minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration issues, said.   (photo: NATO)

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