Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze held a bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen before a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC).
The Bush administration tried and failed to have NATO leaders approve a Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Georgia. And since the rash Georgian attack on South Ossetia gave Russia a reason to put military forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the MAP process has been on hold. In an effort ot move things forward Georgia has continued to work hard to earn NATO's favour. They have offered 900 soldiers, with no caveats on their use, to the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The Chairman's summary of the NGC meeting recognised this, stating:
NATO Ministers expressed strong appreciation for Georgia’s decision to make a substantial contribution to ISAF, to include an infantry company and an infantry battalion without national caveats.
However, in the absence of any agreement with Russia, and continuation of the territorial dispute with the breakaway territories, there is no sign that NATO ministers are ready to approve an MAP for Georgia in the foreseeable future.
As Secretary General Rasmussen told the NGC meeting, NATO will continue to work closely with Georgia:
Allies, collectively and bilaterally, are committed to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. But we all know that security climate in the region which is home to Georgia remains fragile. This puts a particular responsibility on the shoulders of all relevant parties, Georgia included. We all understand that your country has suffered a lot during the last years. There is much hardship to overcome, many human wounds have to heal. But reforms and modernization, and a determination to improve neighbourly relations, offer the best prospects of a better future for the Georgian people. NATO will continue to support your reforms, and stand by your territorial integrity.
Having welcomed progress, Rasmussen also warned Georgia that NATO attaches “great importance to the conduct of free and fair local elections in Georgia in spring 2010” and the need to continue and deepen other reforms reforms.
Georgia continues to pay the price for the recklessness that President Saakashvili showed in sparking conflict with Russia in 2008. There is little likelihood that they will given an invitation to join the Alliance for a long time, whatever the Alliance says about keeping the door open.