Former US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld published an article in the Wall Street Journal encouraging the White House Administration to accelerate the process of Georgia’s integration into NATO. According to Rumsfeld, Georgia should be liberated from all barriers and receive a Membership Action Plan, as Georgians have fulfilled their commitments.
“Nearly unique among the new states formed from the old U.S.S.R., Georgia’s main parties all subscribed to and campaigned on Georgia’s strong attachment to Europe and NATO, and all favor a strong, strategic anchor with the United States. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili told me and stated publicly that this process is “irreversible,” a sentiment that resonates throughout Georgian society. . .
First, the barriers in Georgia’s pathway to NATO membership should be removed, and Georgia should receive a membership action plan without further delay. Georgians have paid their dues. Georgia volunteered its fighters to stand shoulder to shoulder with Americans and other NATO soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan”, says Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld also said that “NATO has recently extended its presence in Georgia by setting up a Joint Training and Evaluation Center. NATO should also tap Georgia’s unique perspective on its complex region. It has firsthand experience with Russian subversion; it borders restive Turkey; and it has an evolving relationship with its neighbor, Iran. These suggest several opportunities, including prospective intelligence sharing and counterintelligence operations.
Rumsfeld has commented on the factor of Russia throughout this integration process saying that “Russia offers predictable complaints that for Georgia to join NATO would be a provocation. Concern about Russia’s probable reaction persuaded some NATO members that Georgia’s move toward NATO should be delayed. Yet recent NATO summits have repeatedly acknowledged Georgia’s contribution to the West’s security, while promising action on its application for full membership. The time to act is now. The West’s security interests should not be held hostage to Russian disapproval.”
Georgia is often described as being NATO’s star student. At the 2008 Bucharest Summit, Georgia was promised NATO membership. Georgia has participated in a number of NATO’s international missions and is one of the largest non-member contributors of the organisation’s International Security Assistance Force. After the 2014 Wales Summit, Georgia received a substantial package for a training center in order to prepare for membership.
The Warsaw Summit declaration of July 2016 spoke about Georgia extensively and pointed out the importance of the 2016 parliamentary elections. It reiterated the fact that Georgia has the potential to be a member of NATO and that the Membership Action Plan continues to be an integral part of the process. NATO recognizes the progress Georgia has achieved on its path to integration and has promised continued support to Georgia’s defense capabilities.