NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai said “there is no point” in a discussion over Georgia’s possible removal of Article 5 protection from its occupied regions, to fast-track NATO accession.
“I’ve seen the current exchanges in Georgia on joining the Alliance without Article 5 applying to the two regions. In my view, there is no point in a discussion of this issue now. I don’t see an appetite in NATO to consider this, nor do I believe the current international security environment makes this idea timely,” Appathurai wrote in Facebook on September 11.
Appathurai noted the Georgian embassy to NATO “is actively promoting more Georgia in NATO, and more NATO in Georgia, with clear and concrete ideas.” “This is the right approach, politically and practically,” he said, adding that the North Atlantic Council (NAC) will soon be in Georgia to discuss how to further deepen NATO-Georgia cooperation, “including to help Georgia with the reforms that help it prepare for membership.”
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Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former NATO Secretary General (August 2009 to October 2014) said at the recent Tbilisi International Conference that Georgia may consider – temporarily – removing Article 5 protection from its occupied regions, to fast-track NATO accession. However, he later told Civil Georgia (Civil.ge) that “there’s clearly a risk” that Russia may try to preempt accession by renewed aggression.
“I suggest to break stalemate around Georgia’s NATO membership, Georgia could discuss joining NATO without article 5 coverage of illegally occupied territories,” Rasmussen wrote on Facebook and Twitter on September 10.
Georgian Foreign Ministry position
Vladimer Konstantinidi of the Georgian Foreign Ministry said Rasmussen’s proposition is not new and similar suggestions have been voiced earlier as well. However, he said to avoid speculations over this issue, any decision will be made with full respect of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“NATO is constantly expressing its support to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders, it is constantly calling on Russia to renounce its position on recognizing so-called independence of the occupied regions of Georgia, and withdraw its armed forces from the Georgian territory,” Konstantinidi stated.
He also noted that Georgia’s integration to NATO is “one of the main tools for ensuring the country’s security,” however, Georgia is also using other tools for the “eventual de-occupation of the country and restoration of its territorial integrity.”