NATO MEMBERSHIP AS GEORGIA’S FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITY
David Gudiashvili, Ph.D. (Hist.), senior research associate, Tsereteli Institute of Oriental Studies, Georgian Academy of Sciences; assistant professor, Tbilisi Institute of Asia and Africa (Tbilisi, Georgia)
At all times the great powers never let the Caucasus out of sight because of its strategically advantageous location between the East and the West and the South and the North. Foreign policy has always been one of the vital priorities for Georgia on which its continued statehood and, at time of crises, continued existence of the Georgian nation depended.
Two small Christian nations—Georgian and Armenian—found themselves in isolation when the Ottoman Turks who had conquered Constantinople closed the Byzantine corridor that connected them with the rest of the Christian world. When the majority of the North Caucasian peoples had adopted Islam Georgia became an island of Christianity in a Muslim sea. Its rulers skillfully exploited the rivalry between two medieval potentates—the Ottoman Empire and Iran—to preserve its statehood till the early 19th century. As Russia was gaining strength and pressing to the South Georgia made several attempts to establish friendly and even allied relations with the northern neighbor. This was not the only direction of Georgia’s diplomatic efforts: in 1715 a prominent Georgian enlightener and statesman Sulhan-Saba Orbeliani traveled in Western Europe. The mission failed because of lack of interest in the far-away mountainous country.
Incessant Turkish and Iranian raids forced the Georgians to choose between Muslim enslavement and patronage of Christian Orthodox Russia. Having selected the lesser of two evils Georgia became a Russian protectorate under the Treaty of Georgievsk of 1783. A promise of patronage turned out to be false: by its Manifesto of 12 September, 1801 Alexander I abolished Kartly (the Kakhetian Kingdom) and joined it to Russia.1 For the next 100 years Georgia became an outskirt of the Russian Empire.
The Republic of Georgia created on its ruins was short-lived: under pressure of Bolshevist Russia and Kemalist Turkey and with the West’s complete indifference the Menshevist government of Georgia had to leave the country in the fraternal family of Soviet nations for the next 70 years.
The unfavorable historical context forced the nation to abandon its statehood: for two centuries its fortunes were intimately connected with the powerful northern neighbor. The idea of statehood, however, survived all tribulations and was revived and realized during perestroika amid the centrifugal sentiments typical of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the last years of the Soviet Union. Real independence and distancing from Russia demanded new foreign policy and a counterbalance to Moscow’s influence.
The idea of enlisting Western support to oppose the Kremlin’s ambitions appeared when the Round Table—Free Georgia bloc won the October 1990 elections. The new leaders posed themselves a task of declaring independence and reviving the country’s statehood. On 17 September, 1991, the Georgian parliament described the Soviet troops stationed in Georgia as occupation forces and instructed the government to start negotiations about their withdrawal. It was too early to realize such decisions in 1990 and 1991. The terminally ill Soviet Union was still alive—therefore the world community refrained from recognizing Georgia’s independence.
In December 1991, the notorious meeting in Belovezhskaia Pushcha decided to disband the Soviet Union; the Union republics acquired independence. Georgia was recognized as an independent state within the borders of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. This momentous event coincided with a fierce confrontation in the republic. Defeated in the streets of Tbilisi the government of Zviad Gamsakhurdia had to abandon the country to the Military Council headed by Tenghiz Kitovani and Jaba Ioseliani. In March 1992, on the Military Councils’ insisted request Eduard Shevardnadze, former first secretary of the C.C. Communist Party of Georgia and former foreign minister of the Soviet Union, came to Tbilisi from Moscow. Very soon after that he was elected president.
A weathered politician and diplomat the newly elected president opted for a principle of balancing that he applied with great success in Georgia’s foreign policy. His cabinet stopped calling the Russian troops stationed on the Georgian territory occupation forces yet it never abandoned the issue of their removal. In April 1993, Shevardnadze signed a decree on drawing a schedule of the evacuation of the Russian troops from Georgia. At the same time, the country was actively drawing closer to the West; it joined the U.N. and OSCE; in May 1992, the former Soviet republics signed the Tashkent Agreement and Georgia joined the Treaty of Conventional Forces in Europe.
The country’s leaders pinned their hopes on closer cooperation with NATO; early in the 1990s, a series of conferences on the ministerial level, conventionally called the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, took place. The NATO members and the former WTO countries tried to know each other better. On 1 April, 1992, a Georgian representative participated in one of such meetings for the first time; two months later, on 5 June, in Oslo Georgia joined the Council as an equal member.
Early in October 1992, in a letter to the NATO Secretary-General the State Council of Georgia described the tragic events in Abkhazia and asked the Alliance to pay particular attention to the developments in that part of Georgia. On 20-27 March, 1993, the parliamentary delegation of Georgia met the Alliance’s leaders in the NATO Brussels headquarters. Later a delegation of the Defense Ministry of Georgia came to Brussels to take part in a conference of the defense ministers of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. On 21-23 June, President Shevardnadze came to Belgium with an official visit and negotiated with the Belgian government and NATO leaders.2
The Georgian delegations did their best to supply the Alliance and the European public with objective information about the events in Georgia and to demonstrate that the republic was trying to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. These initiatives and the persistent efforts of the Georgian embassy at the European Union and in Belgium made the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict a subject of discussions in NATO and EU structures. On 20 September, 1993, a document that condemned violations of the cease-fire agreement appeared in the Alliance’s headquarters. The blame was laid on the Abkhazian side.3
The NATO leaders, in their turn, also wanted wider contacts with Georgia. In June 1993, a NATO delegation visited the republic and met Head of Staff of the Armed Forces A. Tskitishvili and the parliamentary Defense and Security Committee. On an invitation from NATO Georgian delegations visited its headquarters in Brussels. These were tactical moves designed to bring the republic closer to NATO.
Fall 1993 saw several negative political events: the governmental forces suffered a defeat in Abkhazia, the civil war was escalating. The country’s leaders had to change the foreign policy course. It was decided to join the CIS, to legalize the status of part of the Russian troops and border guards stationed in Georgia. A two-year long stage of political and military rapprochement with Russia began.
This did not rule out many other vectors of Georgia’s security-related policy. Pragmatically minded Georgian leaders tried to establish contacts everywhere where it was possible. While taking into account Russia’s interests in the Southern Caucasus Georgia never abandoned its efforts of consolidating its contacts with the West, the symbol of market economy and a community of states based on human rights. There are objective reasons for a positive image of the West among the common people: the United States and Germany are two most lavish donors in the military sphere while a group of countries called the friends of the U.N. Secretary-General is actively involved in the Georgian-Abkhazian settlement under the U.N. aegis. The public is learning to look at the West as Georgia’s patron. Lana Gogoberidze, Chairperson of the Georgian parliamentary delegation at the Council of Europe, put this common sentiment in the following way: “Close ties with the West is the best guarantee of independence and security of the young statehood of Georgia.”4
As distinct from the West, Russia’s policies in the Southern Caucasus, and in Georgia, lack continuity and logic. In certain Russian political circles the prospect of abandoning the region causes a lot of pain. When the Soviet Union disappeared from the maps they, together with a considerable part of society, were inclined to leave the Southern Caucasus to its fate so that to preserve the lives of Russian soldiers and avoid unnecessary financial obligations that weakened Russia could not afford anyway. Gradually, however, it became dawning on Moscow that an abandoned Southern Caucasus would create a security vacuum highly attractive to the regional powers (Turkey and Iran) and probably to the United States, the U.K., and Germany. The Northern Caucasus is regarded as an inalienable part of the Russian Federation yet the local ethnic majority is closely connected with the nations on the other side of the Caucasian range. This created a conviction in Moscow that the security problem demands that the region should be regarded as a single whole. There is an opinion in the political community of Russia that the country’s integrity is at stake.
“In 1993, Russia defined its foreign policy priorities: among other regions of the former Soviet Union, it also declared the Transcaucasus a sphere of its vital interests and granted itself the exclusive right ‘to establish order’ in the conflict zones of the CIS. Moscow tried to oust all international intermediaries from the Caucasian events, or at least force them to acknowledge that without its participation as the main peacekeeper no settlement would be possible. Within the framework of this policy, Russia tried to play the role of power guarantor, while strengthening its political position and ensuring its military and strategic supremacy in the region.”5
The post-Cold War world was a changed place with a different international context and geopolitical structure; the North Atlantic Alliance had to re-adjust its plans accordingly. On 10-11 January, 1994, its summit adopted a Partnership for Peace program that was an instant success among the states: 27 countries joined it within the next six months.6 Georgia did that on 23 March, 1994; at an official ceremony NATO Secretary-General Max Werner and Foreign Ministry of Georgia A. Chikvaidze issued a joint statement that said in particular: “Georgia should become a pillar of trans-Atlantic security.”7 On 24 March, a group of NATO experts came to Georgia for consultations, it also helped draw the presentation document. On 29 September, during a reciprocal visit the Georgian delegation handed in to the NATO leaders the document drawn jointly by the foreign and defense ministries and the presidential staff. Late in 1994, Tbilisi submitted another presentation document.
As the Partnership for Peace was going ahead Georgia was more and more actively drawn into joint events and training exercises: while in 1996 it took part in 20 events in 1997 it participated in 70 events out of the total 96; the figure for 1998 was 120; for 1999, 140. Increased quantity went hand in hand with a greater scope and longer duration. Some of the exercises were conducted in Georgia. In summer 2001, Cooperative Partner-2001 naval exercise took place at the port of Poti that involved about 4,300 servicemen, 29 warships of various classes, and 15 fighting and transport aircraft.8 In June 2002, Cooperative Best Effort-2002 exercises took place that involved six NATO members and nine program partners; Russia declined the invitation.
In this way beginning in 1994 the region became one of the permanent NATO priorities; numerous meetings discussed conditions and terms of Georgia’s future membership; the political situation in the Caucasus, the conflict with Abkhazia, etc. In July 1999, the so-called Workgroup for Caucasus was set up within the Euroatlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) designed to address the problems the region and individual countries were facing.9
In spring 1999, the republic joined the PARP (the Planning and Review Process), a special program of cooperation between NATO and partner countries in the field of defense planning. Within the program highly placed NATO officials regularly visit Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia to acquire a clearer idea about their domestic policies. NATO Secretary-General Xavier Solana paid two official visits to Georgia, in 1997 and 1998. He pointed out that NATO was especially interested in developing relations with the Republic of Georgia and that Europe would not be secure unless the Caucasus remained within its scope of attention.10
As distinct from Georgia’s voluntary and sincere desire to integrate into the NATO military structures its military cooperation with Moscow remained clouded and even tense at times. President Shevardnadze explained his decision to join the CIS and draw closer to Russia in fall 1993 by his desire to neutralize the negative influence coming from the north.11 By doing this Tbilisi hoped to achieve complete trust and mutual understanding with Moscow and to restore its power in Abkhazia. In February 1994, the sides signed a decision on stationing Russian border guards along the Georgian-Turkish border. The Georgian leaders agreed to let Russian peacekeepers with a CIS mandate into the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. In 1995, a treaty on Russian military bases in Georgia was initialed at the level of ministers and later signed by the Georgian president. Four Russian bases (in Vaziani, Akhalkalaki, Batumi, and Gudauta) received an official status. Tbilisi agreed on its continued deployment for 25 years more and automatic prolongation of the term for five years. The appendix to the agreement said that it would be enacted as soon as Georgian jurisdiction in Abkhazia was restored.
Georgia’s expectations proved to be futile: Russia did next to nothing to achieve a just settlement of the conflict; in 1996, another round of military-political coolness in the relations with Russia began. It is interesting to note that the parliament refused to ratify the treaty on the Russian military bases. In 1999, the Georgian leaders demanded that Russia withdraw the bases from the Georgian territory while Foreign Minister of Georgia I. Menagarishvili announced that the country wanted to withdraw from the CIS. In November 1999, at the Istanbul OCSE summit, on demand of the Georgian side, Russia pledged to evacuate two military bases (in Vaziani and Gudauta) before 1 July, 2001. Today, the Vaziani base belongs to the Georgian armed forces while the base in Gudauta on the territory of Abkhazia outside the reach of Georgian jurisdiction remains an apple of discord. Russia will have to evacuate two remaining bases in Akhalkalaki and Batumi; Moscow wants to do this in 15-year time while Tbilisi wants this to be done in the next few years. The Kremlin is convinced that the exposed southern flank cripples Russia’s strategic interests.12
The second Chechen campaign added tension to the relations between the two countries. Reopened in 1999 the hostilities moved close to the Chechen stretch of the border with Georgia; Georgian air space was repeatedly violated; on 9 August, 1999, Russian aircraft bombed the Georgian border village of Zemo Omalo, wounding three.13 Local civilian population sought safety in Georgia that for humanitarian reasons let in over 7,000 to its territory, to the Pankisi Gorge. Moscow was very open about its displeasure with Tbilisi’s position on the Chechen issue; it accused Georgia and Azerbaijan of allowing Chechen fighters to set up bases on their territories and letting them use the border areas as a transportation corridor to move militants and weapons to the Northern Caucasus.
Against the background of its worsening relations with Russia Georgia is strengthening its ties with Western Europe and America. Starting with 1996-1997, the West has been displaying its more specific interest in Georgia. It contributed to the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, the TRACECA project is being gradually realized. The United States is actively involved in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project.
In 1998, Georgia, its leaders and the larger part of the political elite realized that there were no alternatives to the country’s Western orientation. In 1999, the Georgian press wrote that the president who in the past had preferred the policy of balancing was never wavering when announcing the country’s Western orientation. At the April 1999 CIS summit Georgia withdrew from the Collective Security Treaty. In an interview to the British Financial Times in October 1999 President Shevardnadze said that by the year 2005 Georgia would knock at the NATO doors. This decision was prompted by the fact that the republic was selected as the transit territory for moving energy fuels from Azerbaijan and Central Asia to Europe. In 1999, the U.S. Congress supported the plans of developing the Great Silk Road that were of signal importance for Georgia.
There were positive shifts in the relations between the Republic of Georgia and the European and Euroatlantic structures. In April 1999, Georgia was admitted to the Council of Europe; a treaty on cooperation with the EU came into force.
The terrorist acts of 9/11 and the rout of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan changed the geopolitical situation all over the world. The United States strengthened its allied relations with the South Caucasian and Central Asian countries that spells American invasion of the sphere of Russia’s vital interests. The measures Washington is taking under the banner of worldwide unity against international terrorism, and training of antiterrorist units in Georgia as part of this program, setting up temporal military bases in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, greater financial aid to these countries are designed to build up their stability, diminish Russia’s influence, and tie them to the United States. The present situation in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus clearly demonstrates that the Kremlin activity is diminishing while the White House is building up its presence. The United States and Western Europe are paying less attention to Russia’s interests than before. On 13 December, 2001, Washington unilaterally withdrew from the ABM treaty while NATO refused to abandon its plans of eastward expansion.
Against the background of the West’s growing impact on the geopolitical situation in the world Georgia is doing its best to realize its foreign policy priority and join NATO. On 18 March, 2002, in Brussels at a meeting with President Shevardnadze NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson pointed out to Georgia’s contribution to the global antiterrorist campaign and promised more help in reformation and modernization of its armed forces.14 On 11 November, 2002, having spoken to the republic’s leaders and influential political forces President Shevardnadze informed George Robertson that the National Security Council of Georgia had decided to deepen the republic’s cooperation with NATO and suggested new measures designed to purposefully develop such contacts.15
At the NATO summit that took place in fall 2002 in Prague Eduard Shevardnadze announced that his country wanted to become another member of the Alliance. In his address to the summit he pointed out: “I am happy to announce at the Euroatlantic Partnership Council summit that Georgia is eager to join NATO and is prepared to do everything to ready itself in a worthy way for this historic mission.”16 The summit’s declaration clearly outlined NATO’s objective and benevolent position in relation to Georgia. It said in particular that the Euroatlantic Alliance approved of Moscow’s measures in relation to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and insistently asked Russia to fulfill its pledges under the Istanbul agreement.
The resolution of the NATO heads of state called on the Caucasian and Central Asian countries to use the tools available to them to further their cooperation with the Alliance. It pointed out that the new practical steps in this sphere, that is individual partnership plans, would help them make a comprehensive and differentiated approach conducive to reforms there. Lord Robertson described the Caucasian and Central Asian countries as “the Euroatlantic Alliance’s future borders” and said that stronger ties with them were one of the NATO priorities for the next 10 to 15 years.
Moscow took this in stride: a sign that Russia had opted for pragmatic foreign policies. At all international forums Russia is busy promoting its image of a democratic country. At the Prague NATO summit the Secretary-General pointed out that the Alliance’s eastward movement did not threaten Russia and would never infringe on its national security interests while the heads of state of the North Atlantic Alliance supported closer relations with Russia and expressed their satisfaction with the successful functioning of the NATO-Russia Council.
The summit pointed out that the sides were fruitfully cooperating within this format and contributed to peacekeeping, defense reforms, WMD non-proliferation, rescue activities, antiterrorist efforts, etc. In Prague Russia’s Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said: “We are witnessing how a new structure of international security is being formed across the North Atlantic expanse. This architecture should replace the military-political confrontation of the Cold War era. The NATO-Russia Council is a living embodiment of new times.”17
As soon as President Shevardnadze announced in Prague that his country intended to join NATO the relations between Tbilisi and Moscow worsened once more. The Georgian-Abkhazian conflict was “defrosted”; a campaign of issuing Russian passports and granting Russian citizenship was unfolded in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in total disregard of Tbilisi. Railway communication between Sochi and Sukhumi was restored in violation of the U.N. and CIS decisions and resolutions on Abkhazia. The Georgian political elite described this as “crawling aggression.” The Georgian leadership informed the leaders of Russia of its concern over the situation and refused to extend the mandate of the CIS peacekeepers in the conflict zone.
The presidents of both countries discussed the painful problems in the bilateral relations at the CIS summit in Kiev; President Putin promised to conduct consultations in Moscow on all debatable issues and formulate a mutually acceptable approach. When talking about the return of the Georgian refugees to Abkhazia he offered an idea of synchronization of this process with a restored railway communication in the Southern Caucasus, from Sochi to Erevan.
I have already written above that in response to the NATO eastward movement Russia is trying to build up its influence across the post-Soviet expanse. On 23 February, 2003, President Putin received in Moscow the presidents of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. Together they decided to set up a single economic expanse and to draw a corresponding agreement by September 2003. At a press conference President Kuchma announced that regional integration was the final aim.
In the Caucasus Russia is trying to assume the role of the main guarantor of post-conflict arrangement of Georgia as a whole and Abkhazia in particular. On 6-7 March, after President Putin’s consultations in Moscow the presidents of Russia and Georgia met for work sessions in Sochi; an Abkhazian delegation was invited to discuss certain practical measures. The presidents discussed the future of bilateral cooperation and a full-scale settlement in Abkhazia as well as topical international and regional problems of mutual interest. They agreed that work on a big framework treaty on the principles of friendly relations between the two countries should be speeded up; they pointed out that specific steps were necessary to address the overripe problems of dignified and safe return of the refugees and displaced persons as well as economic revival in the conflict zone.
In this context it is advisable to concentrate on the following: return of the refugees and displaced persons to their former homes, primarily to the Gali District; resumed railway communication between Sochi and Tbilisi; modernized cascade of the Inguri hydropower station and identification of other hydrotechnical priorities in the Inguri upper reaches with foreign investments if necessary. It was decided that the Sochi-Tbilisi railway communication would be restored along with the return of refugees and displaced persons to Abkhazia. The role of the Collective CIS Peacekeeping Forces was also discussed. Having taken into account that their mandate had been extended till 30 June, 2003 the presidents agreed that in future the forces would remain in the conflict zone until one of the sides in the conflict objected to their continued presence.18
The talks in Sochi contributed to a certain extent to the conflict settlement yet very soon something happened that directly contradicted these agreements. The State Duma of the Russian Federation once more accepted for a discussion a request of the separatist regime in Abkhazia about associated relations with Russia. This was an obvious attempt to put pressure on Georgia since Moscow wanted to preserve its military presence in Georgia and was concerned with the latter’s desire to join NATO.19
On 13-14 March, 2003, a Georgian delegation headed by Foreign Minister I. Menagarishvili conducted a third round of political consultations with the Alliance in its Brussels headquarters and presented the national program of integration into the Euroatlantic structures. Very soon a framework plan of individual cooperation between Georgia and NATO will be ready. It is expected that in 2003 the Alliance will open its office in Tbilisi.20
In the wake of the Prague summit Georgia set up a Coordinating Council for Euroatlantic Integration under President Shevardnadze. It is expected that the Vilnius Group (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Croatia) will lobby Georgia’s interests in NATO and other international structures.21 The republic is busy reforming the army to adjust it to the NATO standards. Six hundred servicemen of the Commandos battalion have been already trained by American mariner instructors within the Train and Equip program. Today the Sachkhere 16th mountain rifle battalion is being trained by American instructors in the training center in Krtsani. The program also envisages training of two subunits of the 11th mechanized motor rifle brigade: the 113th motor rifle battalion and an armored battalion.
On 21 March, 2003, the Georgian parliament ratified an agreement with the United States in the defense sphere that creates a sort of a counterweight to the Russian presence in Georgia; under it the American military have received certain privileges that include a visa-free entry into the country and the right to keep and carry firearms. All aircraft, sea vessels and land transportation means that belong to the United States acquired the right to freely cross the republic’s borders; Uzbekistan where about 3 thou American military are stationed ratified a similar agreement.22
Through many years Washington has been aiding Tbilisi on a gratuitous basis. In one of his speeches President Shevardnadze pointed out: “Since 1992 we have been surviving thanks to the U.S. aid. This country extended direct aid to the sum of $1.2 billion; on top of this since 1992 every year we have been receiving grain. It also supports us politically and economically in international organizations. Every year the United States allocates $80m for the training and equipping of our army.”23
The president and the government of Georgia resolutely supported the United States on the military operation in Iraq issue; on the eve of the campaign the Georgian defense minister announced that the republic gave the U.S. a “certain air corridor” to be used if necessary for military actions against Baghdad. He said that the United States had had the right to use the Georgian air space since the antiterrorist campaign in Afghanistan.24
The NATO leadership and the NATO members are doing their best to help Georgia consolidate its sovereignty and statehood. One of the best examples of such support is the U.S. and NATO position on the fulfillment of the decisions of the Istanbul OSCE summit of 1999. Stephen G. Rademaker, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, stated that regrettably Russia failed to fulfill its pledge to evacuate its armed forces from Georgia and Moldova it had undertaken at the Istanbul summit. In his interview to Nezavisimaia gazeta he pointed out that the NATO countries would start ratifying the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe only after the Istanbul obligations had been fulfilled. “This is their coordinated position and this is also the position of the Bush Administration and the U.S. Senate majority,” said he.25
According to Sh. Pichkhadze who heads the International Relations Service of the State Chancellery of Georgia NATO and OSCE can put pressure on Moscow to speed up evacuation of its military bases from Georgia. Obviously, the republic should rely in the first place on the Euroatlantic structures for its security.
In Lieu of a Conclusion
For several negative foreign and domestic political reasons Georgia cannot so far to consolidate its sovereignty and protect its territorial integrity. The conflict in Abkhazia is smoldering and can flare up every minute. Patronized by the Russian peacekeepers South Ossetia has become a self-governing unit. In Adzharia the local Supreme Soviet under Aslan Abashidze is pursuing a relatively independent foreign and domestic policy; ethnosocial tension is keenly felt in the Armenian enclaves in southern Georgia.
Despite an active involvement of international organizations in conflict settlement a just and mutually acceptable solution has not yet been found. In an effort to preserve and even build up its presence and influence in the Caucasus, in Georgia in particular, Moscow is exploiting the ethnic conflicts to put pressure on Tbilisi, which wants closer contacts with the United States and Western Europe to oppose the Kremlin’s ambitions. Georgia has resolved on stronger political and economic relations with the West and on becoming a democratic state according to the Western pattern. At the Prague summit President Shevardnadze announced the republic’s desire to join NATO. This made Georgia the first country among its Caucasian and Central Asian neighbors wishing to join NATO.
Georgia undoubtedly cherishes its friendly relations with Russia deeply rooted in history together with its economic contacts with the northern neighbor that accounts for 70 percent of Georgia’s exports. At the same time, traditional friendship demands that the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts be settled in a just and peaceful manner. Georgia cherishes its freedom, its democratic development and its values. It is an independent and democratic state; Russia should develop its relations with it in a form of a mutually acceptable dialog. In fact Russia as Georgia’s neighbor should wish its democratic and sustainable development, and its friendly feelings toward Russia. Georgia’s membership in NATO will make it even stronger, more democratic and more stable.
1 See: Ocherki istorii Gruzii, Vol. V, Tbilisi, 1990, p. 36.
2 See: Sakartvelos Respublika, No. 9, 14 January, 1994.
3 See: V. Maisaia, “Geopolitical Outlines of Georgia’s Future Partnership with NATO,” Sakartvelos strategiuli kvlevebis da ganvitarebis tsentri, Bulletin No. 61, Tbilisi, October 2002, p. 23 (in Georgian).
4 The European, 8-14 August, 1996.
5 See: D. Malysheva, “Security Problems in the Caucasus,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 1 (7), 2001, p. 38.
6 See: Sakartvelo, No. 52, 21-24 October, 1996.
7 Sakartvelos Respublika, No. 49, 26 March, 1994.
8 See: V. Maisaia, op. cit., pp. 13-15.
9 See: Ibid., p. 10.
10 See: Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 18, 13 February, 1997.
11 See: Sakartvelos Respublika, 12 October, 1993.
12 See: V. Tsereteli, “Russia and Georgia: Post-Soviet Divorce,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 3 (9), 2001, p. 117.
13 See: Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 184, 12 August, 1999.
14 See: Imedi—presis daidzhesti, No. 4 (7), April 2002, p. 7.
15 See: Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 253, 21 November, 2002.
16 Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 255-256, 23 November, 2002.
17 Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 255-256, 23 November, 2002.
18 See: Sakartvelos Respublika, No. 64, 11 March, 2003.
19 See: Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 71, 21 March, 2003.
20 See: Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 67-68, 19 March, 2003.
21 See: Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 64-65, 15 March, 2003.
22 See: Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 72-73, 22 March, 2003.
23 See: Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 71, 21 March, 2003.
24 See: Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 69-70, 20 March, 2003.
25 See: Svobodnaia Gruzia, No. 64-65, 15 March, 2003.