NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, addresses NATO Parliamentary Assembly spring session in Vilnius, May 30, 2014. Photo: NATO
In its non-binding declaration on May 30, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly called on the Alliance member states “to consider” moving Georgia closer to NATO at its summit in Wales in September by granting it a Membership Action Plan (MAP).
NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told the Assembly, which unites lawmakers from the alliance member states and associate delegates from NATO partner countries, that now it is still a “bit too early to predict” what the summit outcome in September might be in this regard.
In the Declaration on NATO Enlargement, the Parliamentary Assembly spring session in Vilnius, urged member states “to reaffirm their strong political commitment to the Open door policy and the Euro Atlantic perspective of the countries aspiring for NATO membership.”
It has also urged “to recognise the progress achieved by aspirant countries and to consider taking the next steps in the process of NATO enlargement at the NATO Summit in Wales based on the results of the comprehensive review due to be completed in June 2014; and in particular to follow through on the decision taken at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 that Georgia will become a member of NATO, and move Georgia closer to membership by granting it a Membership Action Plan.”
Answering a question from a Georgian lawmaker after addressing the NATO Parliamentary Assembly session in Vilnius, Rasmussen said that Georgia has done “a lot to fulfill the necessary criteria” to become a NATO member “once in the future” and added that NATO foreign ministers will discuss at the end of June how to address the open door policy at the Wales summit in September.
Citing 2008 NATO Bucharest summit decision that MAP should be the next step for Georgia on its direct path to the Alliance and in the light of NATO’s acknowledgment that progress has been made by Georgia, GD MP Tedo Japaridze, who chairs foreign affairs committee in Georgian parliament, asked the Secretary General how this progress will be reflected in NATO’s next summit and “what else Georgia should do” on its NATO integration path.
“You reminded us of 2008 decision at the Bucharest summit that Georgia will become a member of NATO, provided of course that Georgia fulfills necessary criteria, and you are also right that part of that decision was the statement that MAP will be the next step in that direction,” Rasmussen said responding to the question.
“You pointed to number of areas where Georgia has made progress during recent years and rightly so, because actually Georgia has made significant progress – exemplary elections, reforms of the judiciary, reforms of the defense sector and Georgia is also the largest non-NATO contribute to our operation in Afghanistan,” the NATO Secretary General said.
“Georgia has done a lot to fulfill the necessary criteria to becoming a NATO member once in the future and that of course leads you to question what can Georgia expect at the summit [in Wales in September].”
“I have to tell you that it’s bit too early to predict. We are now in the process of assessing each of the four aspirant countries,” Rasmussen said, referring to Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia.
“NATO foreign ministers will discuss these assessment reports when they meet by the end of June and I hope that we will be able to reach a consensus at that time on how to address the open door policy at the summit,” he said.
“I can’t tell you today exactly how we will do it, but let me add to that as my personal view that the progress achieved should be properly reflected one way or the other at the summit. But as you also know we will need a consensus.”
“I also think we should take into consideration the strategic implications of the current security situation in Europe and send the right signal to Moscow that Russian assertive attitude does not pay,” Rasmussen added.
Georgia’s state minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, Alex Petriashvili, published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal saying that “as the West considers how best to solve the Ukrainian crisis, one avenue of action should be clear: Georgia must be allowed to take a clear next step toward full NATO membership.”
The opinion piece, titled “To Halt Putin, Bring Georgia Closer to NATO”, is accompanied by a disclaimer saying: “The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of the Georgian government.”
Condemning such a disclaimer, opposition UNM party said that it was demonstrating “split” within the government, as well as showing that PM Irakli Garibashvili and “oligarch” Bidzina Ivanishvili in fact “are not supporting Georgia’s actual integration into NATO.”