16:11 Jun. 9, 2016
'The only reason Georgia is not a member so far is because Russia does not want it so' - Georgian Defense Minister
Senior Georgian officials say "bold" action is needed on Tbilisi's NATO aspirations and that the Western military alliance should be "desperate" for it to gain membership to demonstrate that Russia is not dictating its policies.
Georgian Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli said at a June 8 panel discussion in Washington that her country's security "is very much a fundamental issue for the security of Europe" and that "there is no Europe in peace without Georgia being in peace and being part of that security architecture."
She was among several officials from Eastern Europe who spoke about NATO enlargement at the event hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank ahead of the alliance's July 8-9 summit in Warsaw.
Georgia is hoping for progress on its bid for membership at the summit, despite strong opposition from Russia.
Khidasheli said the West "should be more desperate to get us in NATO than Georgia is" to join.
"Georgia is an opportunity for you to prove to Russians that they do not have a veto power, they do not guide your policies, they do not make decisions instead of you," she said. "Because everybody knows in this room [and] outside this room: The only reason Georgia is not a member so far is because Russia does not want it so."
Analysts say one of Moscow's main motives in its five-day war with Tbilisi in 2008 was to keep the nation out of the Western military alliance. Despite that, NATO indicated at a summit earlier that year that Georgia would eventually become a member.