I hope the Biden administration will take the issue of Georgia’s NATO membership up, reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to NATO, to an open-door policy, to Georgia’s aspirations to Euro-Atlantic integration, and agree to a concrete plan to make this possible. Former Deputy Secretary-General of NATO Alexander Vershbow told in an interview with the Georgian First Channel.
Vershbow hopes that Biden will be interested in his initiative to grant Georgia the status of an associate member.
A lot of time has already passed since Bucharest and a promise that Georgia and Ukraine will become the members of NATO, and even though the recent NATO 2030 report came out strongly in favor of that promise and favors the open-door policy, Georgia still is in the dark when it comes to when and how the membership promise of 2008 will be ultimately fulfilled. Because it is 12 years since Bucharest, 2030 will be 22 years after Bucharest. So surely, we need to start thinking about how we are going to bring about Georgia’s membership so it happens before 2030. So, I hope the Biden administration will take this issue up reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to NATO, to open-door, to Georgia’s aspirations to Euro-Atlantic integration, and agree to a concrete plan to make this possible, Former Deputy Secretary-General of NATO said.
According to Vershbow, instruments for Georgia’s membership in NATO are available, but some kind of a transitional status for Georgia such as associate membership could be an extra push.
One instrument is already available, which is the Membership Action Plan and that is largely a political decision that NATO could take, the mechanism that is already provided by the NATO-Georgia Commission and Substantial NATO-Georgia Package and all the other tools that Georgia has. But I was also thinking maybe there could be some kind of transitional status for Georgia such as associate membership that I mentioned at the Atlantic Council couple of weeks ago. Again, this does not exist now, this is just an idea, but it would certainly be not a substitute for full membership, rather I think of it as a transitional stage when NATO and Georgia would work together to ensure that the Article 5 guarantee for Georgia would be credible from the very first day of Georgia’s full membership, the Former Deputy Secretary-General of NATO told the Georgian First Channel.
Vershbow added: “This could also be the time when NATO and Georgia would work to ensure that Georgian membership would be seen by Georgia’s neighbors, including Russia, as a step that increases regional stability rather than diminishing it. So, I think this transitional period could include direct engagement with Russia, not to give them a veto, but rather to hear their objections and complaints. To look for ways to counter them very much like NATO did in the 1990s at the beginning of the enlargement process, finding ways to show Russia that NATO still will be a defensive alliance even after Georgia, and hopefully Ukraine too, join the Alliance. So, this is not something that is going to happen tomorrow, the conditions for talking to Russia probably do not exist today. I think if we remain very firm, not only in the commitment of 2008 but in terms of resisting Russia’s aggression against its neighbors, that’s ultimately the prospects for a constructive approach will become brighter. So, Putin needs to be convinced that time is not working in his favor, but time is working against him. He thinks the time is on his side right now but perhaps for NATO to begin moving in the direction I suggest could shake him out of this complacency.”
The full version of the interview with the former Deputy Secretary-General of NATO will be available on Georgian Radio at 10:25 am on December 13 as a part of the author program World News by Levan Akhalaia.