NATO-Georgia Cooperation: A Rhetorical Engagement?
In 2008, NATO officially embraced Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, declaring that one day the country would become a member of the alliance. Almost six years on, most policymakers - on both sides - agree that membership depends not on Geor - gia’s political domain or security options, but rather on the geopolitical struggle be - tween the major powers in the post-Soviet space, and most of all on the challenging NATO-Russia relationship. Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the Bucharest Summit in 2008, at which Georgia was promised that it would one day gain member - ship, exacerbated the already complicated relations between Russia and the West. Both events were perceived by the Kremlin as a threat to Russia’s strategic inter - ests. Moreover, from Russia’s perspective, both required a response. Russia’s security dilemma culminated in August 2008 with the invasion of Georgia. This war led to the suspension of talks on Georgia’s eventual NATO membership. Furthermore, the events in Ukraine, the financial crisis in Europe and U.S. policy in the Middle East and towards Iran have made it necessary to decelerate the Georgian NATO membership process. For now, NATO cannot compete with the Russian influence in the region. Consequently, it will pursue only a limited role in Georgia and in the South Caucasus more generally, keeping activities within the framework of the Individual Partnership Action Plans and engagement limited to the promotion of democracy, economic development, and military reform.
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