Russia ‘exploits’ NATO hesitancy on membership, Georgia says

Romania President Klaus Iohannis NATO chief
Source: Pixabay

Ambiguity over Georgia’s prospects of joining NATO is playing into Russia’s hands, the long-time aspirant country said Monday, a day before the alliance’s summit in Lithuania.

NATO leaders agreed at a 2008 summit in Romania that Georgia and Ukraine would join the alliance once they meet membership criteria but refused the put the countries on a formal membership path.

“The contradictory decision created an ambiguity that pushed Russia to exploit the geopolitical opening and further aggravate the situation,” Georgia’s parliament speaker Shalva Papuashvili said Monday in a statement on behalf of the country’s ruling party.

NATO leaders are meeting in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, on Tuesday and Wednesday where Ukraine has said it will push to join the alliance, but little is expected regarding Georgia’s progress towards membership.

Papuashvili said Georgia’s NATO membership would have helped to avoid Russia’s 2008 invasion of the country that came as tensions erupted over Georgia’s drive to forge closer ties with the West.

“The rejection of Georgia may have also contributed to the Ukrainian disaster,” he added, referring to Russia’s war in Ukraine. “NATO borders show where the boundary for peace is drawn.”

“We see no comprehensible argument as to why Georgia cannot be admitted into NATO… Georgia seems to be hitting the glass door.”

Papuashvili dismissed growing international suspicion that the Georgian government has in recent years shifted back into Russia’s orbit and rowing back from its hopes of joining NATO.

“Nothing can be further from the truth than this,” the influential politician said, adding that Georgia’s democratic and defence reforms made it “one of the most compatible partner nations, by NATO’s own admission.”

Georgia‘s NATO membership is enshrined in the country’s constitution and supported by 74 percent of the population, according to opinion polls.

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