Friday, 07 August 2015 12:40

NATO Leaders Should Ease the Path of Georgia's Entry

NATO Leaders Should Ease the Path of Georgia’s Entry

http://www.newsweek.com/nato-leaders-should-ease-path-georgias-entry-356917

BY MAMUKA TSERETELI 7/24/15 AT 10:53 AM

The Warsaw summit of NATO in July 2016 has a chance to become another milestone in the history of the organization, if the alliance chooses to take the next step forward toward further enlargement.

There are several aspirant countries expecting bold decisions. Georgia is one of them.

The Georgian government is taking a more aggressive stand in demanding acknowledgment by the alliance of Georgia’s progress in political and military reforms. The Ministry of Defense issued a statement in June stressing that Georgia requests a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the Warsaw summit, and Minister of Defense Tina Khidasheli made several statements about the proactive position that the government is going to take on this issue.

Try Newsweek: subscription offers 

This firm position on Georgia’s part should be welcomed. But based on past experiences of NATO’s inability to make a decision on Georgia, and in order to avoid further frustration of the Georgian public if no decision is made, it is essential to design the right strategy and accompany it with the right wording for both domestic and external consumption.

In terms of the strategy, pushing for the MAP should no longer be the priority for Georgia. In terms of the military compatibility and political-military reforms, Georgia is already very close to NATO standards. In addition, current instruments of bilateral relationships, such as the NATO-Georgia Commission and the Annual National Plan, provide mechanisms that could lead Georgia to membership.

The priority is to convince the NATO partners that short of granting membership, Georgia expects an announcement at the Warsaw summit that current political and military components of the Georgia-NATO partnership can lead to membership without the MAP. This decision will allow the alliance to grant Georgia membership at the right political moment.

Russia Factor vs. Security Interests of NATO

There is no secret that the key factor preventing Georgia’s membership in NATO is Russia. For years, Washington and many of its allies in Europe were keen to avoid anything that could escalate tensions with Russia.

Looking at developments in Ukraine, that cautious approach didn’t really produce desirable results. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama’sdeclaration in March 2014 that “neither Ukraine or Georgia are currently on a path to NATO membership,” was understood by Moscow as Russia’s veto power over the enlargement of the alliance. That led to much greater escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in fall 2014.

Recently, Russia, yet again, moved the so-called borders of the breakaway South Ossetia region of Georgia deeper inside Georgia. As a result, part of the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea and supplies European and Israeli refineries, is now under Russian control. Clearly, the language of unilateral concessions doesn’t work with Russia.

Skeptics insist that bringing Georgia into NATO is dangerous since it cannot be defended against a Russian invasion. But the fact is that it is easier to defend the mountainous terrain of Georgia than most of the eastern borders of NATO—and this was the case during the Cold War as well.

In addition, while it is true that Georgia cannot defend itself alone, it is also true that with adequate military support, Georgia’s military can inflict very high costs on Russia in case further aggression takes place. NATO and U.S. defensive anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry, as well as training, will serve as a significant deterrent to Russian aggression against its smaller neighbor.

The focus on the burden that Georgia would impose on the alliance also needs to be balanced with consideration of the wider contribution the country makes to Western security. With Western interests challenged in the Middle East by radical ISIS militants, as well as by Russia in Ukraine and potentially in the Baltics, maintaining a strategic Western presence in the potentially volatile South Caucasus is even more important.

Georgia is also a central part of the East-West energy and transportation corridor, providing pipelines, ports, railways and highways to bring vital energy resources from Central Asia. This East-West corridor via the South Caucasus has the potential to become the shortest and fastest land route for container shipments between Europe, the Mediterranean and China, thus becoming an important pillar for global trade.

Georgia’s Goal for Warsaw

What Georgia needs in Warsaw is the formal declaration by the alliance’s leaders that Georgia can be admitted to NATO at any given moment without a MAP. This would avoid providing Moscow with any pretext for further negative escalation in the Caucasus.

Currently, Moscow believes that NATO is not ready to accept Georgia in the alliance. By not giving Georgia MAP, NATO will confirm Russian expectations. At the same time, by removing the impediment of a MAP, NATO would strengthen the Georgian public’s faith in the vision of “joining the West.” The understanding then will be that Georgia may become a member when NATO makes a political decision about the issue, and there will be no technical impediments for membership at that moment.

In addition to traditional allies from Eastern Europe who always supported Georgia’s NATO aspiration, the focus of Georgian diplomacy during the next 12 months should be on three key NATO members: the United States, Germany and Turkey.

U.S. leadership will be decisive in the process, but Germany and Turkey in many ways hold the key for Georgia’s NATO future. Both countries should see incentives for their support. Germany may become the key beneficiary of the China-Europe land trade in the future and thus should care more about the security and stability of Georgia.

Turkey is a key member of NATO and a neighbor of Georgia with whom Georgia is enjoying close political and commercial ties. But Turkey is facing increasing challenges in the Middle East, and having a stable and reliable ally next door would be important.

The U.S. can and must help Georgia deal with these allies. Welcoming Georgia’s troop contribution to U.S. and NATO operations for more than decade and not allowing Georgia to have a clear pathway to join the collective security organization that can protect the country’s sovereignty is a moral failure of the West. There is an opportunity to make a positive turn in Warsaw.

Mamuka Tsereteli is the director of research at Central Asia–Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. He was a member of the Atlantic Council’s Georgia Task Force. This article first appeared on the Atlantic Council site.

Read 8030 times

isdp

AFPC-Full-Logo

 

News

  • New Article Series on Changing Geopolitics of Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Wednesday, 24 November 2021 11:53

    Eurasia

  • CACI Initiative on Religion and the Secular State in Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Sunday, 24 January 2021 13:53

    In 2016, the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program launched an initiative on documenting the interrelationship of religion and the secular state in the region. This initiative departed from the fact that little systematic reserch had been undertaken on the subject thus far. While there was and remains much commentary and criticism of religious policy in the region, there was no comprehensive analysis available on the interrelationship of religion and the state in any regional state, let alone the region as a whole. The result of this initiative has been the publication of six Silk Road Papers studying the matter in regional states, with more to come. In addition, work is ongoing on a volume putting the regional situation in the context of the Muslim world as a whole.

     

    Case Studies

    Each study below can be freely downloaded in PDF format.

    az-formula-SRSP

    Azerbaijan's Formula: Secular Governance and Civil Nationhood
    By Svante E. Cornell, Halil Karaveli, and Boris Ajeganov
    November 2016   




    2018-04-Kazakhstan-SecularismReligion and the Secular State in Kazakhstan
    By Svante E. Cornell, S. Frederick Starr and Julian Tucker
    April 2018

     

     

     

    1806-UZ-coverReligion and the Secular State in Uzbekistan
    Svante E. Cornell and Jacob Zenn
    June 2018

     

     

     

    2006-Engvall-coverReligion and the Secular State in Kyrgyzstan
    Johan Engvall
    June 2020

     Event video online

     

    2006-Clement-coverReligion and the Secular State in Turkmenistan
    Victoria Clement
    June 2020

    Event video online

     

     

     

    Articles and Analyses

    Svante E. Cornell, "Religion and the State in Central Asia," in Ilan Berman, ed., Wars of Ideas: Theology, Interpretation and Power in the Muslim World, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.

    Svante E. Cornell, "Central Asia: Where Did Islamic Radicalization Go?" in Religion, Conflict and Stability in the Former Soviet Union, eds. Katya Migacheva and Bryan Frederick, Arlington, VA: RAND Corporation, 2018.

  • Basic Principles for the Rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's Post-Conflict Territories
    Wednesday, 07 October 2020 09:01

    Rehab-coverIn 2010, the CACI-SRSP Joint Center cooperated with Eldar Ismailov and Nazim Muzaffarli of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus to produce a study of the methodology and process for the rehabilitation of the occupied territories in Azerbaijan. The study was written in the hope that it would prove useful in the aftermath of a negotiated solution to the conflict.

    Such a resolution nevertheless did not materialize. At present, however, it appears that some of these territories are returning to Azerbaijani control as a result of the military conflict that began in late September, 2020. While it is regrettable that this did not come to pass as a result of negotiations, it is clear that the challenge of rehabilitating territories is as pressing today as it would be in the event of a peaceful resolution - if not more, given the likelihood that such a solution would have included a time-table and provided the Government of Azerbaijan and international institutions time for planning.

    It is clear that the study is a product of a different time, as much has changed since 2010. We fully expcect many updates and revisions to be needed should the recommendations in this study be implemented today. That said, we believe the methodoloy of the study and its conclusions remain relevant and would therefore like to call attention to this important study, published in English, Russian and Azerbaijani versions.

    Click to download:

    BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR THE REHABILITATION OF AZERBAIJAN’S POST-CONFLICT TERRITORIES

     

  • Resources on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict
    Monday, 05 October 2020 08:19

    Resources on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

     

    The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program have a long track record of covering the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict. This page presents the key resources and most recent analysis. 

    In 2017, Palgrave published the first book-length study of the International Politics of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, edited by Svante Cornell. The book concluded by arguing that if international efforts to resolve the conflict are not stepped up, “the ‘four-day’ war of April 2016 will appear a minor skirmish compared to what is sure to follow”.

    In 2015, CACI & SRSP released the Silk Road Paper  “A Western Strategy for the South Caucasus”, which included a full page of recommendations for the U.S. and EU on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. These are reproduced below:

    ------------------

    Develop a substantial and prolonged Western initiative on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

    o This initiative must be led by the United States, in close consultation with its European partners – primarily the EU Commission and External Action Service, and France. Barring some process to reinvigorate the Minsk Process – a doubtful proposition given Western-Russian relations in the foreseeable future – Western leaders must be prepared to bypass that process, utilizing it where appropriate but focusing their initiative on developing direct negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders.

    o The U.S. and its European partners must abandon the practice of relying solely on the Minsk Group co-chairs to resolve the Karabakh conflict. These diplomats have contributed greatly to formulating a workable framework agreement. However, strong and sustained U.S. Government leadership from the top level is needed to complement or, failing that, to replace the Minsk Process. In practice, this means the expressed support of the President, involvement of the White House, and leadership manifested in the appointment of a distinguished citizen as Special Envoy for the resolution of the conflict.

    o The EU must take a more clearly defined and substantial role in the process, by integrating to the highest degree possible the French co-chairmanship of the Minsk Group with EU institutions. While Washington will need to take the lead on the political side, it would be natural for the EU to take the lead in organizing an international development program for the currently occupied Azerbaijani provinces and Karabakh itself. That effort, too, would need to be led by a senior EU figure.

    --------------------------------------------

    In 2011, CACI & SRSP helped launch an extensive study of the steps needed for the post-conflict rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's occupied territories, in cooperation with Eldar Ismailov and Nazim Muzaffarli of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus. The monograph "Basic Principles for the Rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's Post-Conflict Territories" can be accessed here

     

    More background resources:

    Svante E. Cornell, "Can America Stop a Wider War Between Armenia and Azerbaijan?", The National Interest, October 2020

    Brenda Shaffer and Svante E. Cornell, Occupied Elsewhere: Selective Policies on Occupation, Foundation For Defense of Democracies, January 2020. 

    Brenda Shaffer and Svante E. Cornell, "The U.S. Needs to Declare War on Proxies", Foreign Policy, January 27, 2020

    Svante E. Cornell, “The Raucous Caucasus”, American Interest, May 2017

    Svante E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, RoutledgeCurzon, 2001.

    Svante E. Cornell, The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Uppsala University, 1999

    More recent analysis:

    Turkey Seeks to Counter Russia in the Black Sea-Caucasus Region,” Turkey Analyst, 10/5/20, Emil Avdaliani

    Turkey’s Commitment to Azerbaijan’s Defense Shows the Limits of Ankara’s Tilt to Moscow,” Turkey Analyst, 9/25/20, Turan Suleymanov & Bahruz Babayev

     “Cross-Border Escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 9/25/20, Natalia Konarzewska

    Russia and Turkey: Behind the Armenia-Azerbaijan Clashes?”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 8/31/20, Avinoam Idan

    Armenia and the U.S.: Time for New Thinking?”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 10/2/19, Eduard Abrahamyan.

    Why Washington Must Re-Engage the CaucasusCentral Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 7/8/19, Stephen Blank

    Azerbaijan’s Defense Industry Reform”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 5/7/19, Tamerlan Vahabov.

    Military Procurements on Armenia's and Azerbaijan's Defense Agendas”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 3/27/19, Ilgar Gurbanov

    Armenia's New Government Struggles with Domestic and External Opposition,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 3/20/19, Armen Grigorian.

    Bolton's Caucasian Tour and Russia's Reaction”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 12/17/18, Eduard Abrahamyan.