What’s Georgia Going To Get At The NATO Summit?

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, November 10, 2011

From Joshua Kucera, the EurasiaNet:  Georgia’s prospects in NATO, after being more or less left for dead in the wake of the 2008 war with Russia, have lately appeared to be improving. NATO has recently changed its rhetoric on Georgia, for the first time calling it an "aspirant" along with several Balkan countries. And U.S. officials have said Georgia is making "significant progress" that should be recognized at the next NATO summit, in Chicago in May.

So what does this mean? Does Georgia have a shot at NATO membership after all? As a story on EurasiaNet’s main page today explains, not really: President Obama, after his meeting with his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili, used the word "ultimately" to describe Georgia’s entrance into NATO, which suggests he doesn’t see it happening any time soon. And even if the White House were to again back Georgian NATO membership as strongly as the Bush administration did pre-August 2008, there would still be the matter of the big Western European countries who oppose Georgia’s membership. So what to do?

The defense official quoted in the EurasiaNet piece had more thoughts on this (though there wasn’t room in that piece). A Membership Action Plan, the holy grail for Georgia, is not a possibility. That subject won’t even be discussed at the summit: remember, this will be in May of an election year. "It’s about U.S. internal politics, so this summit needs to look good. We don’t need a food fight like in ’08, between us and the Germans, or the pro-Georgia camp vs. the camp that’s not too keen on Georgia. We don’t need that. So the whole Georgia issue isn’t going to be raised," the official said. . . .

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking to Russian journalists has weighed in on even this slight warming of ties between Tbilisi and Washington . . .

Medvedev made the remarks after one of the participants of the meeting told him with regret, that although after the August, 2008 war Russia managed to secure international “informal arms embargo” against Georgia, situation was now changing with Georgia “restarting to buy arms from around the world”; this participant of the meeting also said that there were speculations about a trade-off – Russia turning a blind eye on Georgia’s rearmament and in exchange securing Tbilisi’s go-ahead for Russia’s WTO accession.

Makes you wonder, though, what’s being said behind closed doors.  (photo: AP)

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