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NATO Reassures Georgia On 'Open-Door Policy'

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili arrives in Brussels ahead of an EU summit on March 25.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili arrives in Brussels ahead of an EU summit on March 25.
By Ahto Lobjakas
BRUSSELS -- NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen told Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in Brussels today that the promise of eventual membership for Georgia in NATO made in April 2008 still stands.

"NATO's policy toward Georgia has not changed. We will continue to support Georgia in its Euro-Atlantic aspirations," Rasmussen said.

Along with Ukraine, Georgia has aspired to NATO membership for years. Rasmussen said the brakes that new Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych appears to have applied to his country's NATO aspirations will not affect Georgia's progress.

He said both countries can join as soon as they meet the relevant conditions -- which include approval by all of NATO's allies -- assuming they still want to.

At the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008, NATO leaders decided not to put Georgia on a direct path to accession and did not grant it a Membership Action Plan.

They did, however, adopt a declaration saying that Georgia and Ukraine were guaranteed eventual membership.

Saakashvili today said Georgia's path toward NATO membership is "irreversible" and won't be affected by Tbilisi's lack of control over the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Saakashvili said he was optimistic that Georgia would join the alliance sooner than expected, but wouldn't speculate on specific dates.

"We think there [were] cases where, you know, countries were divided and then became members of NATO,” Saakashvili said. “I hope this division will be overcome before then and I think the whole thing will happen much earlier than any of us can imagine."

The Georgian leader also drew attention to Georgia's contribution to NATO's mission in Afghanistan, where it has deployed some 1,000 soldiers and trainers.

"We are committed to Afghanistan. We are the biggest per capita contributor to ISAF,” Saakashvili said. “We are not only sending troops there -- and as you know, we have a small professional army and it's quite a luxury to send a thousand or so troops, without any caveats, to the most sensitive and difficult areas in Afghanistan.”

He continued: “I have to underline that people going there understand clearly what kind of responsibility and risks they're taking. And I think Georgian society overall has been behind that decision."

Territorial Integrity

Meanwhile, NATO plans to stick with its policy of supporting Georgia in its standoff with Russia in words, if not in deeds.

In January, NATO increased its cooperation with Russia to prewar levels at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.

But Rasmussen said the alliance refuses to accept the outcome of the 2008 war, which saw Abkhazia and South Ossetia secede from Georgia.

"NATO is fully committed to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Rasmussen said. “Our allies stick to their policy of nonrecognition of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia."

The NATO chief also said Russia must abide by the August 12, 2008, cease-fire agreement, which among other things requires Moscow to withdraw its troops to preconflict positions.

In a reflection of U.S. President Barack Obama's “reset” policy, Rasmussen has made deeper engagement of Moscow one of his top priorities as NATO secretary-general.
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by: Ozzy from: UpstateNY
March 27, 2010 12:24
NATO `Proxy War' With Russia Part 2 ... http://www.opednews.com/articles/Georgia-vs-Russia-Fanning-by-Eric-Walberg-100302-321.html ... Georgia vs. Russia: Fanning the Flames, by Eric Walberg, for OpEdNews.com ... With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world expected a new era of peace and disarmament. But what happened? Instead of diminishing, US and NATO presence throughout Europe, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Central Asia rapidly increased, and the world experienced one war after another - in the Caucasus, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan, each one hotter and more horrible than the last. And we are far from seeing the end to the savagery now unleashed by the anti-communist jinni. Though a pokey backwater for the past millennium, the south Caucasus is now a key battleground, the `critical strategic crossroads in 21st century geopolitics,' writes analyst Rick Rozoff, the focus of ambitious energy transit projects and a military corridor reaching from Western Europe to East Asia, controlled (or not so `controlled') from Washington and Brussels. Surely peace in this vital region should be a paramount goal for both Russia and the West, for their own reasons - Russia because, well because it is there and its cultural and economic links are vital to Russia's well being. The US, if only to benefit economically, since peace everywhere is a boon to economic well being and logically should be blessed by the world's superpower, whether or not it is a benevolent one.

But this logic has been betrayed - egregiously, in the case of US abetting Georgia in its disastrous war against Russia in 2008, less obviously in likely covert US and other involvement in Chechnya and its neighbours, as well as in the Armenia-Azerbaijan stand-off over Nagorno Karabakh.
Topping the list in recent times are Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where firebrand Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili struts and threatens, running from one NATO gathering to another, embracing one US military envoy after another, as he shakes his fist at his northern nemesis and vows to retake his breakaway territories Abkhazia and South Ossetia, now fully fledged republics. This pits a NATO hopeful against a NATO foe, and despite the fact that NATO expressly forbids membership to any country with disputed borders, it continues to vow that Georgia will soon be a full member, a project that can only mean war with Russia. US encouragement for Saakashvili in his failed 2008 war with Russia was, to put it mildly, an embarrassment for the US and should be a warning to politely distance itself from further abetting a dangerously unpredictable character. Despite the likelihood that Saakashvili's extreme pro-West policies will be reversed by a future government, the US navy is conducting war exercises at this very moment with Georgia in the Black Sea, and the Pentagon is preparing to build three military bases in Georgia and dispatch of up to 25,000 US servicemen to the country by 2015. It seems the embarrassment is also a `window of opportunity,' a chance to put facts on the ground which a future government would find very difficult to change. Georgia is a tempting morsel for other reasons. US special envoy to AfPak Richard Holbrooke just last week visited Georgia to arrange transit of arms to his killing fields via Georgia. Saakashvili offered Georgia's Black Sea ports Poti and Batumi as docks for military supply ships and the country's airports as refuelling points for cargo planes. (an excerpt and a must read for RFEs)

by: Nick
March 27, 2010 18:13
"Georgia's path toward NATO membership is "irreversible" and won't be affected by Tbilisi's lack of control over the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."

IT SHOULD BE!!

NATO should not absorb a country which does not control all its territory.
Continue building your econonmy, strengthen your democratic credentials, modernize your military infrastructure, and square your boundaries.... Then I'll support membership

by: Ozzy from: UpstateNY
March 29, 2010 00:19
You will see the Red Army's North Caucasus Military District relocate it's HQ to downtown Tbilisi and Ole' Misha will be sent off on a special NATO plane to Brussels way before that happens !!! Then again we would love that, be just like August 2008 all over again - except worse X a factor of 10 !!!

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
March 30, 2010 04:54
Ozzy is treatening in name of Russian Red army,
Next is Tbilisy - Russia will conquer rest of Georgia.
Nick is warning Nato - do not absorb country - dammy,
It dosen't have whole Georgia that invaded by Russia!

NATO shouldn't absorb countries, it isn't nazi Russia!

Ozzy again - collaps of USSR should mean the NATO
And USA leave Europe and Asia - giving it to Russia.
So Russia stink nerve gas, cut off heads, splitt guto
And devide Europe with German-Austrian Prussia.

USSR didn't collapse - read the 1936 Constitution!

Well, Russians, Nato hated to spread itself so thin,
But asked by nations, genocidized by Russian sins,
They helped a bit, not anough save the evil Russia
From going to hell - as stealing toilet bolls parasha.

Now, about your treats, the smart Russian scriblers:
Yes, you have a point, good people too consious too
And wait too long to act against your World exansion.
Is it time for Kartvelis and Einshteins to stop your fu?

Konstantin.

by: eli from: jakarta
March 30, 2010 11:27
Ozzy, why read that silly thing? Why not just go to Russia Today? At least it makes its bizarre assumptions a little more smoothly. The ethnic wars that erupted with the collapse are somehow the West's fault? Just silly, knee-jerk, blame-America gibberish. Russia, the poor victim!

by: Ozzy from: UpstateNY
March 30, 2010 16:23
Eric Walberg is a very established Jewish-American who writes for Al-Ahram Weekly about topics the world does not want to read about, like this one and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I watch RT, and yes the demise of the USSR and Yeltsin's RF collapse in 1998 was inevitable via the staged NATO enlargement that came afterwards, and financial meltdwn put together by Neo-liberal clique within his cabinet. And factual the promises of NATO/EU membership for the post-Soviet Sphere have kept frozen conflicts in place for 20yrs.

Besides how many folks did the Indonesian Juntas slaughter in East Timor, or are you not Indonesian.

Wasn't that a UN-mandate that failed after the 1975 Invasion via a US Security Council Veto and 25 year occupation w/UN estimates of the number of East Timorese who died during the occupation vary from 60,000 to 200,000?

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