Ex NATO head Rasmussen says Georgia should start renewed discussions on joining NATO

  • Former Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen says that the main obstacle for Georgia’s NATO membership is the occupied regions. Photo: nato.int.

Agenda.ge, 10 Sep 2019 - 14:26, Tbilisi,Georgia

Former Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen says that it is time Georgia start discussions on whether or not to join the alliance with its 5th article on collective defence covering only the Tbilisi-administered territory. 

The initiate does not mean the suspension of the non-recognition policy or the loss of currently Russian-occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, and the article will cover whole Georgia when the regions are reintegrated. 

The step will carry risks. However, it will be a genuine step taken towards NATO membership,” Rasmussen told the Georgian news agency Interpressnews.

He said that Russia’s occupation of Georgian regions is hampering the country’s ability to integrate into NATO and the EU as neither of the two wish to get involved in the problems caused by the occupation.

That is why Russia continues the occupation of the Georgian territories. However, if Georgia says that the country is ready to join NATO with the fifth article of the alliance not covering the occupied regions Russia will have no lever to influence the membership. In the case [of Georgia agreeing to the fifth article to cover only the Tbilisi-administered territory] it will be only up to Georgia and NATO to make decisions,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen stated that it is only up to the Georgian government and the people to make the decision and then offer it to NATO.

Ruling Georgian Dream party member Giorgi Volski has responded  to  the initiative of Rasmussen. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge.

Rasmussen says that some people in the country may mistakenly take such discussions as the loss of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.

Of course the discussions carry risks and it is only up to Georgia to decide. However, there is a question of what is more risky: the current situation or the new talks regarding the membership,” Rasmussen said.

Ruling Georgian Dream party member Giorgi Volski says that if Georgia becomes a member of an international organisation, it must do so with Abkhazia and Tskhinvali as integral regions. 

None of the governments of Georgia or any political force will say no to the regions as it will be a move against history and statehood,” Volski said.

The member of the European Georgia opposition Otar Kakhidze mentioned the benefits of the initiative. Photo: parliament's press office. 

The member of the European Georgia opposition party Otar Kakhidze said the idea was ‘interesting.’ 

This initiative means the continuation of the non-recognition policy. NATO members will continue supporting the country’s territorial integrity. However, the article on the collective defence will not cover the occupied territories,” Kakhidze said.

He stated that the government of Georgia must think about the initiative, which will create a “security umbrella over Georgia, and consequently, encourage the economic development of the country.”

Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, which are currently occupied by Russia, comprise 20 per cent of Georgian territory.