French Defense Minister Hervé Morin said in an interview with Reuters on October 3 that his country would support Georgia’s NATO-membership bid only if it weren't seen as a threat by Russia.
“Despite all the affection and friendship we have for the Georgians...and I've said this to the head of the Georgian government, it can only happen if it is not seen as an additional threat to Russia,” Reuters quoted the French defense minister as saying.
Georgian Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze denounced the remarks, saying they constituted “the wrong message to Russia.”
Speaking with Georgian reporters on October 4, Burjanadze likened the remarks to telling the Russians that “you will succeed, if you continue to behave badly.”
In any case, Burjanadze said “European leaders [those at presidential and prime ministerial levels] are not so naive as to think that if they compromise on Georgia’s NATO membership, Russia will not put forth any other new demands.” “It's impossible to imagine this,” she added.
The French defense minister's remarks, nevertheless, sit uncomfortably with the impression Tbilisi has been cultivating of late, namely that French President Nicolas Sarkozy, unlike his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was favorably disposed towards NATO membership for Georgia.