Speaking jubilantly to Georgian journalists in Bucharest, President Saakashvili said that the NATO summit’s eventual outcome was much better than receiving Membership Action Plan, which Tbilisi was denied at this stage.
“A life and death struggle took place between one or two skeptics [within NATO during the summit in Bucharest] and over 20 very motivated countries [which were in favor of giving MAP to Georgia],” Saakashvili said on April 3. “I met the Polish president right after those discussions and he was exhausted, but very happy after everything. Poland struggled very hard [in favor of Georgia’s MAP]. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia also struggled desperately. There was major verbal sparring between these countries and the skeptics. Even Denmark and Iceland, with which we do not have close relations - took a firm position. Finally, we received a document, which, in our opinion, is much more than the so-called MAP.”
“What is MAP? MAP is NATO Membership Action Plan. This is a pledge that if you pass through the action plan well, you may become a member of NATO. The document, which was adopted here, in Bucharest, reads that ‘NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO and we agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.’ Such a document had not been adopted even in respect of the Baltic States, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary or other candidate countries in the past. This is a clear commitment – regardless of how we will pass through the candidate’s action plan, when we will pass through it, when we will receive assessments at various stages – this is a direct commitment by NATO that Georgia and Ukraine will become members of the alliance. We have to pass this Rubicon. I am sure that we will become a NATO member before my presidential term expires [in 2013].”
He then said that “one country” – referring to Russia – had tried to block Georgia’s MAP. But despite Moscow’s attempts, Tbilisi had gained much more than expected, the president said.
“It is no secret that one country, which was not participating in these discussions, did its best to prevent adopting this document – starting from direct blackmail, threatens, concrete actions, promises, and various diplomatic tricks… Everything was done to prevent us from receiving MAP. But instead, we received a direct commitment that we will become a NATO member. Today is a historical day for us, for our country, for this organization. It is equal to a geo-political revolution… When I first attended the NATO summit four years ago, I could not even dream about it… Now it is no longer about whether; we will become a NATO member soon, much sooner than some skeptics think.”