TBILISI, September 11. /TASS/. Georgia will find itself in the epicenter of a clash between the United States and Russia if the country joins NATO, which will affect the future of the republic, former Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, leader of the Democratic Movement - United Georgia political party Nino Burjanadze said on the national TV on Wednesday.
"This (joining NATO - TASS) means that we will host two clashing military forces on our small territory. Any little conflict between them will be devastating for Georgia. We are doing what other states are trying to avoid. We are trying to turn our small homeland into a showdown site between two "elephants" of nuclear arsenals," she said.
The former speaker also underlined the importance of a direct dialogue with Russia, saying that she would welcome such a step taken by new Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. "I could not but be glad to see it, however, this will only happen if the prime minister is focused on national interests and not on protecting billions of Bidzina Ivanishvili (chairperson of the Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia political party - TASS)," she added.
On Tuesday, former Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen had an interview with the Georgian Imedi broadcaster, when he proposed that Georgia joins NATO according to a plan that does not apply article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty on collective security to the current state of affairs around Abkhazia and South Ossetia. According to the ex-secretary general, this plan of admission was already used by NATO when Germany joined the alliance back when the country was still split into East Germany and West Germany. Article 5 states that "The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area."
Georgia has been cooperating with NATO since late 1990s, while later then Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze (1928-2014) expressed the country’s aspiration to join the alliance at a summit in Prague in November 2002. This intention was later confirmed by his successor Mikheil Saakashvili.
The new Georgian government ascended to power after the Georgian Dream coalition won in October 2012 and continued the policy aimed at joining NATO, while at the same time branding "gradual normalization of ties with Russia as a goal of utmost importance without compromising Georgia’s territorial integrity." Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg visited Tbilisi in 2015 and 2016, when he assured the Georgian leadership that Georgia would become a NATO member, while conceding that he could not lay out a precise timetable of admitting the country.