Billionaire-turned-politician, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said on November 17, that while there had been some progress in military reforms, Saakashvili’s “authoritarian” rule was making it impossible for Georgia to join the NATO in near future.
“NATO has no alternative in terms of Georgia’s security and I stand where the absolute majority of the Georgian people stands and the Georgian people have made their choice in this regard,” Ivanishvili said, referring to January, 2008 plebiscite in which 72.5% of voters said they want Georgia to join NATO.
He said that unlike the authorities, “I and my team do not believe that we will be able to join NATO in the nearest future.”
“NATO is a political-military structure and apart of development of military system, development of democratic institutions in parallel is necessary. One of the statements and one of the issues on which [NATO Secretary General] Mr. Rasmussen stressed [when he visited Georgia on November 9-10] was that [parliamentary] elections in 2012 will be decisive and that NATO will be watching closely these elections,” Ivanishvili said during a press conference held for media sources based in the Georgian regions.
He made the remarks when asked about the NATO Secretary General’s statement, when he said in Tbilisi that Georgia “moved closer to NATO”. The question aimed at challenging Ivanishvili’s statements that NATO membership was a very far away prospect for Georgia and that the authorities have “delayed NATO chances for a long time.”
“When he [the NATO Secretary General] said that Georgia is closer to NATO, I think, he was probably meaning our military structures and participation of our troops in the international operations [in Afghanistan]; in this regard we have increased number of our troops [in Afghanistan]; the training [of troops] has been improved and in this regard I can agree that there has been some improvements that can bring us closer to joining NATO,” Ivanishvili said.
“But in parallel to improvements in the military trainings, negative things have occurred as we have actually an authoritarian state, which Saakashvili has built. For such an authoritarian state, I think, it will be impossible to join NATO in the nearest future. From the day of coming into power we will make efforts to speed up this process first and foremost through building of democratic institutions and by doing so we will be able to speed up joining NATO,” he said.
He also said during the same press conference that being pro-western and living next to Russia were both Georgia’s “fate”.
“As far as those doubts are concerned that we will come into power and immediately change course of Georgia’s development, I want to tell you that it is our fate to be pro-western and neither my team and nor anyone else will be able to change anything in this regard and no one is planning to do that at all,” Ivanishvili said.
“But at the same time we should also know that it is also our fate to be Russia’s neighbors and no one will be able to change that either. We should manage to sort out relations with our immediate and the largest neighbor,” he added.