The Secretary for Foreign Relations of the United National Movement, Giga Bokeria, described US President's statement that "neither Ukraine or Georgia are currently on a path to NATO membership" as unfavorable and the reaction of the Georgian prime minister to that statement as "alarming."
"We listened to the comment which the US President Barack Obama made when answering a question in Brussels [on 26 March]. In the context it was made, this comment was, of course, not favorable for our national interests, in particular because Georgia was mentioned in the context with Ukraine. As you know, Ukraine, upon a decision of the government of former president Yanukovych, does not have an ambition to become a NATO member at this stage – that is exactly why the comment was unfavorable for us. As a result of multiple-year work Georgia not only received a clear-cut pledge at the NATO Bucharest summit [in April 2008] that it will eventually become a NATO member but also in recent years, Georgia has been considered as one of the group of so-called aspirant countries which includes Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia. That comment [by Obama], of course, did not refer to the US vision of Georgia's future NATO membership, nor did it refer to a concrete issue of awarding MAP [Membership Action Plan] to Georgia, which is our concrete national objective; therefore, there is no need to engage in excessive hysteria regarding this issue," Bokeria said.
As for the statement of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili that "We should not be in illusions. We should always assess the existing situation realistically. What President Obama said is absolutely adequate and this is the reality – that at this point there are no plans for NATO expansion," Bokeria described it as unmotivated and un-ambitious position.
"The statement of our government, namely of Prime Minister Garibashvili regarding this very unfavorable comment for us, is alarming. The prime minister, in fact, declared that we must put with a certain reality. This reaction is the manifestation of the politics which we witness in the conditions of the new government. This is the inconsistent, uncoordinated, unmotivated and un-ambitious politics and position. We can recall the prime minister's statement that MAP is not a principled issue at all, we can recall him speaking at the Munich Security Conference [in February] and not even mentioning this issue; we can recall the statement of the de facto ruler, the former prime minister [Bidzina Ivanishvili] that we do not know what is our long term priority and we can recall Garibashvili's comment after his meeting with Obama in which he also did not mention the issue of NATO at all.
"Those statements, coupled with the general lack of mobilization and ambition, represent our main threat. Instead of our government thinking on how to work with our strategic partner, how to formulate its position, how to step up its activity, the immediate reaction to that unfavorable comment [by Obama], which we heard from our prime minister is that we should put up with it. This is not the way the job is done. Without the Georgian government having a clear cut position and motivation, no one will assist us in any situation and do our job. Even against the backdrop of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, even with that very serious support which our country has, we will not be able to achieve our national objectives if our government lacks determination. However, we do not see this determination. This [reaction of prime minister] looks very much like our government's position regarding the Russian threat. Our government must understand that we need the support against this threat, especially against the developments in Ukraine, but [instead] they speak that they have sorted out relations with Russia, that they have made progress in this direction and everything is going on well and that the problem with Russia was created by the previous government – something we heard in prime minister's speech in Munich. This is a huge problem. We must call on the prime minister and our government to drop this short-term populism concerning the settlement of relations with Russia and to entirely focus on taking steps forward in this very risky for us, but potentially favorable situation.
"Any success achieved in the international arena so far, namely, the progress with the European Union and the prospect that Georgia, I hope, will sign the Association Agreement with the EU soon, is something which, let me say straightforwardly, this government inherited from the previous government. A political decision on the Association Agreement was taken at the Warsaw Eastern Partnership Summit in [Septemebr] 2011 and now all this is being finalized. The government must have ambition to take steps forward and set new objectives. Such an objective for us is to take yet another step towards the NATO integration. Instead of 'putting up with the reality,' our government must spare no efforts to achieve our national goals," declared Giga Bokeria.