Georgia should start an internal discussion of whether it would be acceptable to join NATO without Abkhazia and South Ossetia, - Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secreatry General of North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation, told InterPressNews.
“If Georgia is to become a future member of NATO, you should continue reforms within democracy, that is determined fight against corruption, guarantee of rule of law, guarantee of free speech, free expression, guarantee of minority rights. But the main problem is Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia fulfills the necessary criteria to become a NATO member except those de facto Russian-occupied territories. So I think Georgia should start an internal discussion of whether it would be acceptable to join NATO without Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It's for Georgia to decide and then you may go to NATO and tell them: We are ready to do that. What about you?”, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
When a journalist asked him if he thought the Georgian government was ready to do that, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he did not know.
“You have to discuss it internally, very thoroughly, because it can also be a risky path.
But I think we have to get rid of Putin’s de facto veto. He knows that NATO and European Union, by the way, would be reluctant to import those problems into our organization. He knows that and that's why he continues to de facto occupy Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But if you say: Okay, we're ready to join NATO without Abkhazia and South Ossetia, we will let article five only cover the territory, which is fully controlled by the Georgian government, then we will ensure that Putin cannot veto. Georgia’s membership of NATO is to be decided by the Georgian government and NATO. Well, of course, the Georgian membership of NATO will not be around the corner. But at least such a decision by the Georgian government would restart real talks about the future Georgian membership.
It would be a first and real step towards fulfilling the decision NATO took back in 2008, namely, Georgia will become a member of NATO once you fulfill the necessary criteria”, Rasmussen said.
When asked if that kind of action would risk losing those territories, Rasmussen replied:
“Yet, of course, it is a risk. And that's why it's for Georgia to discuss and decide what to do. But the question is, what is riskier, the current situation or to start new talks about a future membership of NATO”.