- 'Long and winding road';
- 'No arms embargo';
- 'Enduring, fundamental difference'
Increasing democratic control of military and police are among those reform targets, which Georgia submitted to NATO in frames of its Annual National Programme, James Appathurai, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio station on February 14.
Asked which of the NATO standards Georgia was not yet meeting, James Appathurai responded, that all of the partners working with NATO, including Georgia, “have reforms they wish to make.”
“Georgia has just submitted to NATO the annual plan for further reforms,” he said. “It includes upgrading and increasing democratic control of the military, same is true about the police; it means improving the management of them through government ministries. It includes fighting corruption – that’s the area where Georgia is doing very, very well. So there is lot to do and we continue to help them to do that.”
Annual National Programme, introduced in December 2008, is set of reform targets, which is drawn by the Georgian government and reviewed annually by NATO. The recent plan was approved by the Georgian government on February 4 and submitted to the alliance on February 11.
'Long and Winding Road'
James Appathurai also said in the same radio interview, that Georgia had “a long and winding road” to go before joining NATO.
“If I could give a date [when Georgia joins the alliance], it would go against the principle of NATO enlargement and that is conditions-based – the country has to meet the standards of the alliance. We have political standards, military standards and economic liberty standards,” he said.
“The NATO allies decided that Ukraine and Georgia… will become NATO members when they meet those standards and if they so desire of course.”
He said that NATO “respects 100%” Ukraine’s decision not to join NATO. “Georgia is still working for membership and we’re supporting them. But honestly speaking there is a long and winding road to follow,” Appathurai said.
'No Arms Embargo'
Responding to a listener’s question “why NATO is still arming Georgia,” NATO’s special envoy said that “NATO does not arm anybody.”
“NATO as an organization does not sell arms,” Appathurai said. “Individual allies of course are free to sell arms to whom they wish as long as those sales meet international law and norms. And there is no arms embargo, as far as I am aware, on sales to Georgia. I must say I also don’t have information about arms sales to Georgia, but if it is happening it is legal.”
Asked why NATO refused to listen to a report by EU-funded fact-finding mission into the causes of the August war, Appathurai responded that the report drew some conclusions about what events had triggered the conflict in 2008.
“I’ve read the report and of course the [NATO] Secretary General has read the report as well,” he said. “It says a lot of things and I can’t say from my reading that it comes down clearly one way or another.”
“But frankly speaking what now is becoming the most enduring problem, when it comes to these two regions of Georgia [Abkhazia and South Ossetia] is not who started it [the war], but the fact of Russian recognition of these two republics, which no NATO ally can agree to and which, we believe firmly, undermines the territorial integrity of Georgia, which is going to be and is already enduring, fundamental difference of view between allies and Russia,” Appathurai said.