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NATO Signals Georgia Closer To Membership Than Ukraine – OpEd

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The just-completed NATO summit reaffirmed its promise to Ukraine and Georgia that they can eventually join the alliance and that no third country, meaning Russia, has a voice in the matter or can prevent the alliance and applicant countries from reaching an agreement, Yury Sheyko reports.

But the Deutsche Welle journalist says there were some important differences in the language about the two, differences that suggest that NATO is likely to admit Georgia before it admits Ukraine (dw.com/ru/как-нато-пережила-саммит-трампа-и-не-забыла-об-украине-и-грузии/a-44654502).

The final declaration specified that Georgia is a country which “can become a member of the alliance and an action plan concerning membership is part of this process.” Moreover, when speaking of Georgia, it used the term membership repeatedly. But the declaration treated Georgia very differently, referring to it only as a country “seeking membership in NATO.”

At the summit meeting among Ukraine, Georgia and NATO, members of the alliance praised both countries for carrying out reforms that bring them up to alliance standards. But there, too, NATO appeared to treat the two countries differently, by making a clear nod to Georgia.

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, went out of his way to say that “Georgia will be a member of NATO.” He did not give a date but his words suggest that in NATO councils today, Georgia is now ahead of Ukraine in the race to join the Western alliance and gain protections from Russian aggression (kommersant.ru/doc/3683768).

Such diplomatic language almost certainly is intended to put more pressure on Kyiv to carry out reforms; and it is entirely possible that in the end the two countries may enter NATO at more or less the same time. But at the same time, this tilt is likely to have an effect that some may ultimately conclude is far from an entirely positive development.

This suggestion from Brussels that Tbilisi is now ahead could prompt Russia to adopt a more aggressive stance toward Georgia without any guarantee that it will lessen its pressure on Ukraine.


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Paul Goble

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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