Completing Europe: Georgia’s Path to NATO

At his first public address in Washington at the Atlantic Council this week, Georgia’s new prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, unequivocally committed Georgia to a Euro-Atlantic future that would include NATO and European Union membership. Garibashvili argued that Georgia’s democratic credentials, efforts to normalize its relations with Russia in spite of the latter’s provocations, and contribution to vital NATO missions all indicate that it is ready to take next steps toward becoming a NATO member.

In a special issue brief, “Georgia’s Path to NATO,” Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson weighs in to the controversial debate and lays out a viable path forward on Georgia’s aspirations. Wilson offers a creative strategy to restore the credibility of the Bucharest summit commitment that Georgia will become a NATO member by drawing lessons from historical antecedents of how the Alliance has caveated its security guarantee to address disputed territory of its members.

pdfRead the Issue Brief (PDF)

Wilson also argues that Georgia’s integration into Western political and security structures would facilitate dialogue between the people of Georgia’s secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In contrast, “If Russia believes that its continued occupation would prevent Georgia’s NATO membership, then that occupation threatens to become permanent.”  

Baltic states’ NATO membership facilitated the normalization of their relations with Russia, proving skeptics who feared destabilization wrong. Georgia must continue to be an “A+ NATO student” and work to strengthen its democratic foundations, Wilson argues. NATO and European Union, in turn, should offer clear roadmaps to membership and welcome Georgia and other  aspirants as they meet the standards.  

Georgia’s Path to NATO” is the first in an Atlantic Council series analyzing the future of NATO enlargement and those nations that aspire to membership. This series is part of the Council’s programming on Completing Europe, which seeks to reinvigorate the policy debate in North America and Europe on advancing Euro-Atlantic integration and democratic reforms in Southeast Europe and Europe’s East.

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