Georgia proclaimed a special aspirant country at NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Tbilisi
Photo: radio Liberty
What is written down in the declaration?
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NPA) session, which had been underway in Tbilisi for four days, has concluded on Monday, 29 May, after passing a declaration on Georgia.
As is pointed out in a 19-point Declaration, NATO reaffirms its unwavering support to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration. The declaration also provides certain recommendations to the Georgian government, as well as to the Alliance member-states and Russia.
The declaration calls on the Alliance member governments and parliaments to further advance the political dimension of Georgia’s NATO integration in order to create the conditions for granting of the Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia in the future and continue rendering political and practical support to Georgia.
The Declaration also encourages the Georgian government and Parliament to maintain the course of strengthening democratic institutions, maintaining the system of checks and balances, bolstering an independent judiciary, preserving media pluralism, as well as enhancing dialogue and reducing tensions between the ruling and opposition parties.
As far as Russia is concerned, the NATO PA calls for the ‘withdrawal of the Russian troops from Georgia’s occupied regions’.
Georgia – an exception
Tbilisi served as NATO’s political centre for four days: it hosted up to 600 guests, as well as MPs from NATO member states and aspirant countries.
The four-day meeting in Tbilisi marked the 5th time in NATO PA history that it held a session outside of NATO, in an aspirant country. Four out of the five aspirant countries, that previously hosted the NPA sessions, have already joined NATO.
According to Paolo Alli, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly President, it wasn’t a common thing for the NPA to hold its session in an aspirant country. “It’s an exception for us… but we are happy to do that and we openly reiterate our support for Georgia,” he stated.
Some important statements were made during the NPA session:
NATO door remains open to Georgia
As it was once again clearly stated during the NPA session, the Alliance door remains open to Georgia.
When addressing the NPA session, Rose Gottemoeller, the NATO Deputy Secretary General, stated that Georgia was a special aspirant country and the Alliance recognized Georgia’s recent efforts in terms of strengthening the democracy.
“We highly value Georgia’s contribution to the Alliance. Here we should mention the Georgian contingent deployed in Afghanistan, where 35 Georgian servicemen were killed during a mission. They paid the ultimate price. Yet, we expect Georgia to institutionalize its armed forces in accordance with NATO standards. There are certain reforms that need to be carried out,” Rose Gottemoeller stressed.
As for the time-frame within which the country can join the Alliance, in the NATO Deputy Secretary General’s words, it’s hard to make such forecasts. However, she said, she could see a stimulus and trajectory, and both have positive direction.
Russia is a threat
The challenges facing Georgia were in focus at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly session. Some critical statements were made regarding Russia:
As the NAP President pointed out, Russia should withdraw to its official positions.
According to Rasa Jukneviciene, NATO Parliamentary Assembly Vice-President and the head of the Lithuanian delegation, Russia was posing a threat not only to its neighbourhood, but to western democracies in general.
NATO Science and Technology Committee Chairman, Philippe Vitel, in turn, pointed out that Russia’s threat was part of the regular discussions format and that gave grounds to concerns.
The Alliance supports Georgia’s territorial integrity
On 27 May, the NPA President and members travelled to Odzishi village, Dusheti region, which is the last village under Georgia’s control, located in close proximity to the Administrative Boundary Line with South Ossetia. Russian military bases could clearly be seen from that very place that the delegation visited.
“Today’s visit is very symbolic. We witnessed the situation in Georgia’s occupied region. We could see that the situation is really very dramatic. Naturally, the locals are facing problems and they have to live under permanent threat,” the NPA President stated.
In his words, “The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is here, in Georgia, to demonstrate that NATO is very close to Georgia and that it strongly supports Georgia’s territorial integrity.”
NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s four-day session started on 26 May, on Georgia’s Independence Day, and continued through to 29 May.