Defence Minister hopes Georgia will receive MAP

"I care less about wordings (and) more about the actions on the ground," Alasania told Reuters., 22 Jun 2014 - 17:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Minister of Defence is hopeful the country will receive a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to further its relationship with NATO at the upcoming NATO Summit in Wales.

In an interview with Reuters, Minister Irakli Alasania said he had spoken with NATO representatives earlier this month he remained hopeful Georgia would be invited to receive a MAP in September.

"I care less about words [and] more about actions on the ground," Alasania told Reuters.

Citing NATO diplomats, Reuters wrote: "NATO countries, wary of antagonizing Russia, are unlikely to grant former Soviet republic Georgia a formal step towards membership of the alliance at a summit in September."

In its article, it said despite the defiant talk, some allies felt it would be "needlessly provocative” to Russia to invite Georgia to gain a MAP now.

"It's not very likely they will get MAP," one NATO diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters, adding NATO should not show weakness but it should also not take steps "that would irritate Russia without bringing anything to the alliance”.

Conversely, a diplomat from another country commented: "Not giving a MAP to Georgia because of Russia is the wrong thing to do."

According to the article, with NATO-Russia tensions running high after Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, the question of whether to offer Georgia a MAP and bringing the country closer to its goal of NATO membership, had spawned conflicting views within the alliance.

"Some allies oppose granting Georgia MAP membership, fearing it could provoke Russian retaliation, whereas others say it would look as if NATO was bowing to Russian pressure if it did not," Reuters wrote. It quoted another NATO diplomat as saying the alliance was split 50:50; ''and therefore far from required consensus''.

NATO foreign ministers will discuss the NATO prospects of Georgia and three other countries in Brussels next week, with a final decision expected in at the NATO Summit in September.

"NATO appears likely to settle on a compromise by giving Georgia a package of "reinforced cooperation" with NATO that would fall short of MAP. This package could include measures such as closer political cooperation, training the Georgian Armed Forces and strengthening NATO's liaison office in Georgia,” Reuters wrote.

Again citing anonymous diplomats, Reuters wrote the United States was "putting a higher priority on preserving alliance unity at a time when NATO is locked in confrontation with Russia over Ukraine while France thinks the timing is not right to invite Georgia to join MAP and Germany is also opposed”.