Eastern European backing for NATO membership for Georgia

Other News Materials 18 August 2008 21:57 (UTC +04:00)

Lithuania and Poland on Monday urged NATO foreign ministers to offer Georgia and Ukraine a path to membership when they meet to discuss Russia's military intervention in the Caucasus, dpa reported.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Lithunian President Valdas Adamkus made the appeal before Tuesday's NATO emergency meeting in Brussels, citing "the uncontrolled violence and use of force in Georgia."

A so-called NATO membership action plan (MAP) for the two countries was "the only means to stabilize the region and bring security to ordinary people," the two leaders said in a statement.

"Making reference to the Bucharest NATO Declaration, which clearly stresses that Georgia and Ukraine will be NATO members, we ask the NATO leaders to instruct their ministers of foreign affairs to consider granting NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine as soon as possible," the statement said.

Hungarian Defence Minister Imre Szekeres and US Ambassador to Budapest April H Foley said Monday Georgia should be allowed to join the Western alliance after meeting in Szolnok in central Hungary.

Georgia would nevertheless not be represented at the meeting of NATO defence ministers scheduled for Budapest in October, Szekeres said, according to a report by the Hungarian news agency MTI.

Latvia also urged NATO to admit Georgia.

"We support offering a MAP to Georgia as soon as possible," Andris Pelss, a foreign policy adviser to Latvian president, told dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa on Monday.

Latvian President Valdis Zatlers called on NATO to make "a strong stance" on the Georgian-Russian military conflict at the emergency meeting of NATO foreign ministers in a phone conversation with US President George W Bush.

In Moscow, Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said there was no longer any purpose to a special session of the NATO-Russia Council that Moscow called for a week ago.

A meeting of this kind had to be quickly convened, if it was to have any effect, Rogozin told the Interfax news agency.

"Now it doesn't make any sense. It's like waiting a week for the emergency doctor," Rogozin said.

Moscow called for the meeting to explain its view of the conflict in the southern Caucasus.

At the Brussels emergency meeting, NATO is expected to consider a range of upcoming activities planned with Russia, from military exercises to ministerial meetings, and to decide case-by-case whether to go ahead with each activity.

Since the conflict erupted between Georgia and Russia on August 6, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland have rallied behind Georgia, offering humanitarian and logistical support.

At its meeting in Bucharest in April, NATO refused to offer Ukraine and Georgia a MAP, despite support from Canada, the US and former Communist countries. Instead, NATO promised them entry at an unspecified future date.