Georgia will seek a firm membership commitment from NATO at the alliance’s next summit in Warsaw in 2016, Georgian Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili said during a visit to London.
At NATO’s summit in April 2008, the alliance issued a statement assuring Georgia that it could join NATO once certain requirements were met. Speaking at Chatham House on October 6, Usapashvili said NATO’s promise should be kept.
“The Bucharest summit in April (2008) heard how Georgia would become a NATO member and in August [of that same year], there was a war,” Usapashvili said. “Some say that NATO was quite aggressive going forward with Georgia; others say that NATO was not clear enough and the statement was not accompanied by anything concrete, which gave Russia the momentum to act.
“We do not want a repeat of Bucharest when the NATO summit only had nice words,” he added.
A survey by Georgia’s National Democracy Institute (NDI) this year found support for NATO membership among Georgians remains strong at 65 percent. However, only 9 percent of Georgians said being in NATO was the most important political issue for them.
EurasiaNet.org asked Usapashvili whether there would be any political fallout if Georgia did not receive a firm commitment from NATO in 2016. Georgia is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections in 2016. He said that such a non-decision would do more to undermine regional security than domestic stability.
“It would be much more toxic internationally because this would send a message not only to the Georgian people but to Russia,” Usapashvili said.
Back in July, Mr Usupashvili held talks with NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow about their relationship. That month, NATO troops concluded military exercises at the Vaziani base outside Tbilisi.
“We do not want to blackmail anyone because of the 2008 Bucharest summit statement,” Usapashvili said in London. “At the same time, we want to remind everybody that we took those words very seriously and we expect that to be fulfilled.”