Kurt Volker: NATO should have reacted sharper during Georgia-Russia war

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Photo: ირაკლი ბლუიშვილი / ტაბულა

In an interview to Imedi TV aired on 10 August, the former United States Permanent Representative to NATO, Kurt Volker, has said that the delay in NATO's reaction to the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008, probably made Russia think that it could continue its aggression. He also noted that several parallel processes being underway back then were also to be taken into account: President Nicolas Sarkozy was trying to reach a ceasefire agreement whilst President George W. Bush was working separately with Russia and Georgia to stop the fire.

I think it would have been natural for NATO to make a statement in which it would have called for the ceasefire and the retreat of military forces to pre-7 August positions, and in which we would have once again declared that the Alliance supports Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Kurt Volker said, adding that NATO, unfortunately, failed to make such a statement on 11 August.

According to Kurt Volker, the timing of the war was an important factor. Since it happened in August, colleagues said that everyone were on their holidays and it was difficult to contact them, the former US ambassador to NATO has recalled in his interview to Imedi TV channel. Moreover, Volker went on, NATO did not want to interfere with a peacekeeping process undertaken by the European Union. There was also a fear that NATO's statement would cause a further militarization of the conflict, which, in Volker's view, was absolutely unacceptable. However, NATO is a defensive alliance and that was its obligation, he said and added that it was for the first time since the World War II that one sovereign country took its army into another sovereign country. In Kurt Volker's opinion, the reaction should have been prompt.

Regarding Georgia's prospects of joining NATO, Kurt Volker said that the Alliance keeps repeating at each and every meeting that Georgia will become a NATO member, which, in his opinion, is very good because talks on this issue continue. However, he noted that the speed of enlargement has slackened inside NATO itself. Volker believes that this poses a problem to Georgia's accession rather than that the Alliance may change its mind.

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