Georgia’s Defence Minister says NATO’s refusal to enlarge spurs Russia’s aggression

Georgia’s Defese Minister Tina Khidasheli made a speech entitled as “Seeking Security: Georgia between Russia and ISIS.” Photo by Defense Ministry webpage., 20 Aug 2015 - 19:29, Tbilisi,Georgia

Every time the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) refuses to enlarge and open its door to Georgia, Russia takes it as a sign to reveal its aggression towards Georgia, said the country’s Minister of Defence Tinatin Khidasheli in a speech at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) today.

The Georgian official’s speaking engagement at USIP was part of her official visit to Washington DC, where she met Pentagon officials and discussed Georgia’s relationship with the US and the country’s Euro-Atlantic future.

Part of her speech at the Institute reviewed incidences of recent years and Khidasheli stressed that when the Alliance stepped back from giving Georgia a chance to earn NATO membership in 2008, Russia used it as an opportunity to attack the independent state, leading to the short but violent Russian-Georgian war in 2008. 

The Minister emphasized that the subsequent refusals by NATO left the door open for Russia to take "aggressive steps” on Georgian territory and further aboad.

Now the NATO Warsaw Summit is coming and we have put it very clearly that we want and deserve a Membership Action Plan (MAP),” said Khidasheli.

"Lots of statements and speculations have been voiced that NATO does not intend to expand. These are speculations and the facts will be revealed at next year’s Summit.”

Khidasheli believed that NATO enlargement and granting a MAP to Georgia was in the best interests of the Alliance, and if Georgia is not granted a MAP – the next step towards NATO membership – Russia will become more aggressive towards Georgia and current members of the Alliance.

"The Warsaw Summit is coming… several weeks ago Russia moved the so-called border again on our territory and the [new] signposts are very close to Georgia’s central highway,” she said.

We are told by our international partners to be patient … [but] if Russia advances more, Georgia will be cut in two as it is the country’s only highway connecting the west and the eastern parts,” Khidasheli said.

The Georgian official underlined that Russia’s special aggression to Georgia had been caused by the country’s non-stop efforts to strive towards the Euro-Atlantic community.

And if Georgia succeeded to gain a MAP, Khidasheli said Russia might lose its influence in the region, as Russian officials still believed post-Soviet countries should always be under the Russian Federation’s influence.

Khidasheli held various high-level meetings during her official visit to the United States this week.

The NATO Warsaw Summit is scheduled for July 8-9 in Poland. 

 Watch  the video of the Minister’s full speech below: