09TBILISI389, GEORGIA REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO JOINING NATO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI389 2009-02-26 14:15 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3351
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0389/01 0571415
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 261415Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1068
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000389 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/26/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO JOINING NATO 
 
REF: A. HTTP://WWW.MOD.GOV.GE/2007/DOWNLOADS/VISION(P ERCE- 
        NT SIGN)20ENGLISH(UNDERSCORE)2009.PDF 
     B. TBILISI 313 
     C. TBILISI 23 
     D. TBILISI 169 
     E. TBILISI 165 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C/NF) Summary and comment.  Georgian officials continue 
to express through both public and private channels their 
continued commitment to NATO membership.  On February 17, the 
Minister of Defense released his "Minister's Vision 2009," a 
public document that identifies NATO membership as one of 
Georgia's top foreign and security policy priorities.  The 
Defense Minister and the Chief of Defense have privately 
expressed this same commitment to the DATT; the Foreign 
Minister reaffirmed Georgia's commitment in a February 25 
meeting with the Ambassador; and President Saakashvili did so 
publicly in his February 12 state of the nation address. 
Although the President's message did not focus on membership 
to the same extent his 2008 address did, this change in 
emphasis reflects the prominence of the economic difficulties 
currently facing Georgia as well as advice from the Allies 
not to raise expectations unrealistically.  The Government 
has also made a more general shift from public, political 
pronouncements about NATO membership to a more practical 
focus on taking the specific steps required to join the 
alliance.  Government efforts are currently focused on the 
internal reforms necessary to prepare for membership and the 
adjustments necessary to move from the Individual Partnership 
Action Plan (IPAP) to the Annual National Plan (ANP).  End 
summary and comment. 
 
DEFENSE MINISTER'S VISION: NATO MEMBERSHIP IS CENTRAL 
 
2. (SBU) On February 17, Defense Minister Sikharulidze 
publicly unveiled his "Minister's Vision 2009" (ref A), which 
lays out the Minister's key priorities for improving the 
Ministry's ability to provide for Georgia's defense and 
security.  The document notes in particular the importance of 
balancing longer-term strategic interests with more immediate 
needs arising from the still unstable post-war environment. 
An entire section of the document is devoted to NATO 
membership: "One of the main priorities of Georgia's foreign 
and security policy is integration into NATO."  While 
membership itself is clearly a strategic goal, the steps 
necessary to qualify for membership appear as prominent 
shorter-term objectives.  The NATO section's specific 
objectives include several that focus on continuing to work 
through bilateral and partnership programs to prepare for 
NATO integration.  The document notes the importance of using 
both ongoing and new formats, such as the Planning and Review 
Process (PARP), the Annual National Plan (ANP) and the 
NATO-Georgia Commission, to improve compatibility and 
interoperability. 
 
OFFICIALS REINFORCE COMMITMENT 
 
3. (C) Both Sikharulidze and Chief of Defense Chachibaia have 
told the DATT in recent conversations the Ministry and the 
Government remain fully committed to NATO membership.  The 
Ministry of Defense continues to listen carefully to NATO 
international staff suggestions on developing the ANP, a 
process with which the government of Georgia is still 
unfamiliar.  U.S.-funded defense advisors indicate that 
Ministry officials continue to dedicate a lot of effort to 
understanding what the ANP calls for.  During a February 16 
NATO Ambassador's briefing, NATO SYG Special Representative 
Bob Simmons noted that the Georgian first draft of an ANP 
QBob Simmons noted that the Georgian first draft of an ANP 
needed more work, mainly to include longer-term goals. 
According to Simmons, there were no fatal flaws in this first 
draft and he found continued Georgian commitment to produce a 
good document.  While guilty of not understanding how the ANP 
differs from the IPAP, there is no less staff effort to make 
the kind of process reforms required than there has been in 
the past.  Both the Minister and the Chief of Defense agree 
that NATO membership is the only realistic strategic security 
provider.  Both are eager to contribute forces to work in 
ISAF as a way of proving to the Allies that Georgia would be 
a useful member of the Alliance. 
 
4.  (C)  Foreign Minister Vashadze likewise reaffirmed to the 
Ambassador on February 25 Georgia's continued commitment to 
NATO membership, and pledged that the Government would do its 
best to draft a good ANP. 
 
5. (SBU) On February 12, in his state of the nation address, 
President Saakashvili reaffirmed Georgia's goal of 
integrating into NATO in order to ensure Georgia's security. 
 
TBILISI 00000389  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
He spent little time discussing NATO membership, however, 
devoting most of his attention to meeting Georgia's economic 
challenges.  This represented a marked contrast to his 2008 &#x000A
;address, in which he made NATO membership the centerpiece of 
his remarks (ref B).  This shift in emphasis is not 
surprising, considering that Georgia faces serious economic 
difficulties, and that polls consistently show economic 
issues to be among the chief concerns of the population (ref 
C).  Government interlocutors, including the president, have 
made clear they intend to focus first on those concerns (ref 
D). 
 
FOCUS ON CONCRETE PROGRESS 
 
6. (SBU) In addition, the lower-key public approach on NATO 
reflects a more practical focus by the Government on the 
concrete work required to prepare for membership.  For 
example, at the parliamentary address (ref B), Saakashvili 
spoke of increasing transparency in government, strengthening 
the judiciary and reforming the national security structure. 
In another move reflective of Alliance advice, Saakashvili 
engaged members of the opposition and took questions from 
them following his speech.  He has visibly increased his and 
his parties' efforts to engage in a dialogue on a range of 
domestic reforms, including: improving the media climate, 
bringing the Criminal Procedure Code in line with western 
standards, and adopting a new election code (ref E).  In 
short, the Georgian Government appears to be taking the kind 
of holistic approach to NATO membership that the U.S. and 
other Allies have long advocated. 
TEFFT

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