NATO Week raises awareness of Georgia’s path to integration
The annual NATO Week in Georgia was launched in the capital Tbilisi on Monday 3 June. The opening ceremony was followed by a seminar involving representatives from three Western Balkans countries that, like Georgia, aspire to NATO membership. In parallel, a two-day event briefed Georgian journalists about NATO’s current policies and agenda. Other events involving school children, students, and representatives of civil society and local and national media took place across the country in the days that followed.
"The European and Euro-Atlantic choice of Georgia does not belong to any particular government or any particular party. It is foremost the choice of the Georgian people who have made their firm decision,” emphasised Alex Petriashvili, Georgian State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, at the opening ceremony.
“At its core, NATO is about values and the respect of these values: democracy, human rights, rule of law,” explained James Appathurai, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia.
“These values don’t belong to the Euro-Atlantic area. They are universal and no-one wishes to impose them. But if you wish to join our community we expect you to share them – and uphold them. NATO Week is an excellent opportunity to talk about these values,” added Appathurai.
Raising public awareness
Raising awareness of NATO’s integration policy and communicating to the public about participation in NATO-led operations was the main focus of a seminar involving Georgian officials and diplomatic representatives from other countries aspiring to join NATO, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.1
A photo exhibition on the contribution of Georgia and Romania to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan allowed participants to get visually acquainted with the daily life of the servicemen in the mission. They also had the opportunity to meet Georgian officers who have served in Afghanistan and hear about their experiences.
In addition, two days of high-level briefings gave Georgian journalists an overview of NATO’s history, mission and fundamental tasks; its current operations and security challenges; and its decision-making processes. Another key focus of discussions was global security in the 21st century and the importance of NATO’s partnerships, including its relations with Russia.
Journalists were also briefed about Georgia’s reform efforts on the path to integration. Significant progress has been made on a wide-ranging reform package, which includes democratic, electoral, media and judicial reforms. More needs to be done, however, and Georgia needs to continue on this path, adopting and implementing further necessary reforms, to realise its membership aspirations.
Support for membership
Georgia’s drive towards NATO membership continues to be widely supported in the country. A nationally representative sample poll taken in March 2013 revealed that 73 per cent of Georgians approve of the government’s stated goal of NATO membership.
Both the Georgian government and NATO are committed to informing and educating the population about NATO and NATO membership, including rights and obligations.
The NATO Week is an important part of these efforts. It was organised by the Office of the State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration and the Information Center on NATO and the EU, with the support of the NATO Liaison Office and the Romanian Embassy, which currently serves as NATO’s Contact Point Embassy in Georgia. The journalists’ seminar was organised in cooperation with “Integration - Road to NATO and EU”, a non-governmental organisation.1. Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.