Editor’s Note – Following on the article MG Vallely wrote about “Putin calling, wanting his Cold War back,” in many ways the following story mirrors what Obama did in his first days in office – he nixed the missile defense system for Poland and the Czech Republic for starters. Now he nixes more.
Now, he is walking back another deal, entrance to NATO of Ukraine, AND Georgia. Surprise Georgia, yes Obama has reneged again. What? No call first to Tblisi? Why? Because Putin annexed Crimea, right out from under Obama and the State Department’s noses.
The president said Tbilisi isn’t “currently on a path” to membership in the military alliance after telling the vulnerable country for months to do it.
By Will Cathcart – Daily Beast
TBILISI, Georgia —When President Barack Obama delivered the message in Brussels Wednesday that neither Ukraine nor Georgia “are currently on a path to NATO membership” the news came as a shock and a disappointment to Georgians, though a rather familiar one.870px-Major_NATO_affiliations_in_Europe.svg
Since Russia first occupied Crimea last month, Georgian officials have been encouraged by Congress, the State Department and NATO leadership to further integrate with NATO.
John Kerry announced further U.S. assistance “to help support Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic vision” and expressed his hope that Georgia would sign a partnership agreement with NATO this year.
These sentiments were expressed personally to Georgian Prime Minister Garibashvili during his trip to Washington, D.C. last month.
Then on March 12, Russia’s Kommersant quoted an undisclosed source in the State Department saying, “If Russia announces annexation of Crimea the issue of granting Georgia a MAP (membership action plan) can be considered virtually a foregone conclusion.”
Georgia once again has been left exposed to Russian wrath for declaring its NATO ambitions, only to have them rejected publically and abruptly by the U.S. Commander-in-Chief. This isn’t the first time.
For more than a decade the U.S. has been sending positive signals to Tbilisi, when Georgian support for NATO is to the U.S.’s advantage—and just as quickly the U.S. revokes the invitation when it is no longer geopolitically convenient.
The patience and resolve of the Georgian people to continue pursuing the alliance is frankly remarkable. Yet at the current rate, the US may soon find itself without a staunch ally in the South Caucasus and without access to Georgia’s strategic corridor, which together with Azerbaijan connects the Caspian Sea and its oil reserves to the Black Sea and Europe.
Perhaps what the U.S. has failed to appreciate is that the Georgian government which democratically and peacefully—to the credit of both regimes—succeeded power from former President Mikheil Saakashvili in October 2012 intended to take a neutral stance with Russia and to mend relations with its northern neighbor while continuing on a pro-Western course.
This was no easy task but the Georgian government had managed to significantly improve relations with Russia and resume trade for the first time in seven years, even while Russia continued to occupy one-fifth of Georgia’s territory. Then Ukraine happened.
When Russia invaded Crimea, the Georgian government took a stand against Russia and joined the West in condemning the invasion and then annexation of Ukraine’s sovereign territory. The events were an eerie reminder of Georgia’s own 2008 invasion by Russia.
NATO and Georgian Flags
With U.S. and EU support and encouragement, the current Georgian government’s neutral and reconciliatory stance with Russia went out the window. Both the Georgian president and the speaker of parliament demanded that Georgia be swiftly integrated into the NATO alliance.
Then on February 25, the Georgian prime minister stood before the Atlantic Council in D.C. and said the following:
“Six years ago at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, the Allies decided that Georgia would become a member. In Chicago, the Alliance underlined the importance of holding free and fair Parliamentary and Presidential Elections in Georgia.
The progress already made, puts us in a strong position to take next step forward in Georgia’s NATO integration. For Georgia, the upcoming NATO summit in UK is the best opportunity to adequately reflect the progress made, particularly when the time has rightly matured for it.
It is essential to move forward and the realistic way to do it is to grant Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia. We stress on MAP as it is a single integration mechanism providing concrete framework for the implementation of the Bucharest summit decision that Georgia should become member of NATO.”
The Prime Minister acknowledged that in the lead up to the signing of the EU Association Agreement and the NATO Summit in September that there would be intense pressure on his country especially considering the events in the Ukraine. Few would have guessed that it wouldn’t be the Georgians but the American government that would cave to Russian pressure.http://www.standupamericaus.org/world-events/georgians-stunned-obama-speech-brussels/