NATO stance on Georgia reevaluated following renewed Russian aggression
by Tevhid Nazmi Baştürk
Mar 14, 2014 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Tevhid Nazmi Baştürk
Mar 14, 2014 12:00 am
ISTANBUL – Following Russia's aggressive stance on the crisis in Crimea, the question of Georgia-NATO relations has once again been raised.
Georgia's relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began in 1994 when the Black Sea nation entered the Partnership for Peace program. Nearly a decade later, following the Rose Revolution in which large-scale protests ended an era of undemocratic rule in 2003, Georgia's new administration made public their desire to become a NATO member state. Five years later, the Bucharest summit saw NATO members make promises of Georgia's future membership following Russia's attack on Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Most recently, the North Atlantic Council declared Georgia an aspirant country in 2011.
Following Russia's aggressive intervention in Crimea, as Putin's government looks to annex the Ukrainian peninsula, fears have been raised regarding Russia's long-standing claims on Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. Though Georgia was given equal blame for the South Ossetia War due to provocative anti-Russian politics used by the former administration, the Black Sea state's current administration has taken a friendly stance inclined at improving relations with their neighboring state. Like Crimea, Georgia's costal location and lack of military strength make it an easy and enticing target for the Russian state that under President Vladimir Putin appears to be continuing its historic struggle to obtain warm water ports.
The agenda at this September's NATO summit in Wales is no longer in question, as U.S. President Barack Obama, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other Western leaders will convene to decide the fate of Georgia's membership. Preparations for this September's summit are already being made, as U.S. Foreign Minister John Kerry is expected to visit Georgia at the end of this spring, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili in Tiflis this past February.
With the crisis in Crimea escalating, as Russia appears to be getting closer and closer to annexing the peninsula, many NATO members that share positive relations with Georgia are concerned of the Eastern Black Sea state's powerful neighbor's ill intentions. President Putin has made no secret of his desire to grant Georgia's South Ossetia and Abkhazia their independence from Georgia due to their ties with the Russian state. In the event of Russia's success in annexing Crimea, NATO will look to rush Georgia's membership candidacy in order to relieve fears of a second Russian invasion.