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Georgia, which has a solidly pro-Western worldview, deserves the stable future that NATO membership would help ensure, says an American expert.
Professor of international relations at the University of Southern Carolina Philip Seib participated in a NATO-Georgia Public Diplomacy Forum and wrote a blog on huffingtonpost.com, describing what it would mean for Georgia to be closer to NATO.
"For most Americans today, Russia is more an annoyance than a threat. But if you live in Georgia, a small country on Russia’s southern border, the Kremlin remains a menacing presence,” he said.
"If the Russian bear becomes hungry, Georgia might be a morsel too tempting to resist.”
Seib noted Georgia was the "proud and independent descendant of ancient kingdoms” dating back thousands of years. Like others in the Caucasus, Georgians had fought Russians many times, most recently in 2008, when Russia invaded and unilaterally recognized the independence of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, where Russian troops remain.
"Georgia realises that its strength lies in its willingness to be a constructive member of the NATO community,” the author said.
"This commitment is seen in Georgia’s defence budget, which already meets the two percent of GDP NATO requirement (which only a few of the current members respect), and the deployment of Georgian troops in NATO missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.”
Seib said Georgia’s prospective NATO membership was viewed with angry wariness by Russia, and so the country must convince not only the organisation’s leadership in Brussels but also its constituency of member states that Georgia being a part of the defence alliance is both feasible and useful.
"Some of the rhetoric at the conference seemed designed to dampen Georgian expectations, suggesting alternatives to NATO membership. There was talk about strengthening Georgia so it could resist unwanted advances from its nasty neighbour to the north,” the author said.
"But this is nonsense. Georgia without NATO is no match for Russia,” he added.
Seib believed Georgia had a "solidly pro-Western” worldview and deserved the stable future that NATO membership would help ensure.