Political developments in Georgia likely to delay integration with NATO

Political developments in Georgia likely to delay integration with NATO

Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 6

By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:

Recent political developments in Georgia will highly likely delay the integration process with NATO, Tinatin Tsertsvadze, EUCAM (Europe Central Asia Monitoring) programme manager and FRIDE advocacy officer from Brussels believes.

It is unclear after firing of the Defence Minister Irakli Alasania what will happen to the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which was approved at the summit in Wales in September, Tsertsvadze told Trend on Oct. 6.

"It is highly likely that implementation will be at least delayed," she said.

The expert noted that Irakli Alasania was the most trusted and respected minister among the NATO member states and was seen as being very dedicated to NATO and Georgia's commitments to the NATO, who managed to launch substantial reforms at the Ministry of Defense.

In general the performance of Georgian Ministry of Defense headed by Alasania assessed more positively by the NATO in comparison to the previous years and previous ministers, she said.

Meanwhile recent changes in the Georgian government including resignation of Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze will not have great effect on the country's EU integration, Tsertsvadze believes.

"The Association Agreement (AA) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) reforms are not implemented only by the foreign minister, all the other ministries are involved in various sectoral and other issues," she said.

"In principle if the government is committed to these reforms, the resignation of the foreign minister should not affect AA/DCFTA reforms."

Meanwhile the expert noted that the resigned ministers were pro-Western, reform oriented and true professionals. She said their departure will create a big gap in the government.

"This on top of burdensome reform agenda is envisaged within the AA/DCFTA," she said.

Additionally these firing and resignations send very wrong signals to Georgia's western partners, according to Tsertsvadze.

"The Government of Georgia will need to find qualified replacements, keep on reform process, and convince the Western partners that these developments do not interfere with Georgia's reforms and foreign policy orientation," she said. "This will not be an easy task."

Regarding the political future of Alasania's team, the expert said it will depend on whether he manages to create a competitive and alternative opposition party, and be able to compete in the next elections alone, which is a big question.

And yet Tsertsvadze said that Alasania may have a chance, because the oppositional United National Movement party of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is rather weak, while Alasania has remained the most popular politician in all the polls this year.

"As we know in Georgia personalities count more then parties and party programmes. Next parliamentary elections are planned in 2016 and it will bring many surprises to Georgian politics," she said.

Defense Minister Irakli Alasania was fired by Prime Minister's Irakli Garibashvili on Nov. 4. Consequently Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze and the State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili resigned on their own will.

FRIDE (Foundation for the Foreign relations and external dialogue) is a European think tank for global action, which provides innovative thinking and rigorous analysis of key debates in international relations.

Edited by S.I.

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