08TBILISI2254, GEORGIAN LEADERS HAIL NATO MINISTERIAL AS SUCCESS,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2254 2008-12-08 05:30 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0493
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2254 3430530
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 080530Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WAHDC IMMEDIATE 0517
INFORUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS TBILISI 002254 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN LEADERS HAIL NATO MINISTERIAL AS SUCCESS, 
OPPOSITION DISAGREES 
 
1. (U) Georgian government officials hailed this week's NATO 
Ministerial in Brussels as a victory for Georgia.  They said 
the decision to intensify cooperation between Tbilisi and 
NATO and invigorate the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) would 
play a central role in moving Georgia toward membership. 
State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze 
called the decision "...an important element, which brings us 
closer to the alliance and enables us to implement important 
reforms in all spheres, according to NATO standards."  Prime 
Minister Mgaloblishvili was equally positive, saying that the 
decision was a "...recognition of successful reforms" and 
confirmed again the "key thesis of the Bucharest resolution." 
 
2. (U) Opposition figures disagreed with the Government's 
positive assessment.  Several have stated that the 
ministerial's result is not a victory, but a significant 
loss.  They blame Saakashvili for ruining Georgia's chances 
at MAP.  For the first time, Labor Party leader Shalva 
Natelashvili publicly called for Georgia to give up its NATO 
aspirations, saying the country should seek a non-aligned 
status.  He said "Saakashvili's dictatorial regime's 
pathological drive to join NATO" has broken the country in 
three.  This is contrary to the joint opposition statement 
Natelashvili signed in October 2008 calling for Georgia's 
membership in NATO. 
 
3. (U) Perhaps more significantly, former Parliamentary 
Speaker Nino Burjanadze called NATO's decision not to grant 
MAP "a huge step back for Georgia."  At a press brief she 
called for the occasion, Burjanadze said MAP has been 
"postponed indefinitely for Georgia" due to Saakashvili's 
mistakes.  She blamed the decision on the President and 
government, not just for its actions in August, but also the 
failure to provide the necessary conditions for MAP 
accession.  This included Saakashvili's lack of commitment to 
ensure necessary democratic reforms, which Burjanadze alleges 
have lagged. 
 
4. (SBU) Comment: Both the government and opposition are 
trying to present the Brussels Ministerial to their 
advantage.  Opposition attacks on the issue are stronger than 
in the past, and the fact that MAP appears off the table 
provides an opening on a key Saakashvili policy objective. 
Russian Prime Minister Putin was also quoted in the Georgian 
press as hailing the decision in yet another stab at the 
Saakashvili government and in spite of the Government's best 
efforts, some Georgians see Brussels as a defeat for the U.S. 
and for Georgia.  In spite of that, for now, most Georgians 
support membership in NATO and still see it as their 
strongest, irreversible step into the West.  End comment. 
TEFFT

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