Georgia’s NATO Aspirations: Rhetoric and Reality

At the recent Georgian Defense and Security Conference, Western policymakers expressed strong support for Georgia’s accession to NATO, and Georgian policymakers reiterated that there was no turning back from their country’s western course. Neither of these statements is necessarily true: Georgia is not likely to be admitted to NATO in the near future and Tbilisi’s westward course is not irreversible. These facts are regrettable, since Georgia has done more than enough to qualify for Alliance membership, and since most Georgians do see themselves as belonging to the European family of nations. Leaders of NATO countries have so far been unwilling to risk Moscow’s wrath by inviting Georgia to join the Alliance, and Russia has mounted a relentless propaganda campaign to convince Georgians that they are unwanted in Europe, and that in any case they share more common values with Russians than they do with Europeans. Breaking this stalemate – inviting Georgia into NATO without further destabilizing the region – can and should be done.

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