Merkel's mistake promising NATO to Georgia
It is unfortunate that German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the stakes in the Georgian crisis by reaffirming Georgia's hopes of joining NATO. This can only be regarded as a provocation by Moscow. According to news reports tonight the Russians are beginning to withdraw their forces from undisputed Georgian territory, yet Merkel's words have the potential to slow the pullout and extend the crisis.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel assured Saakashvili in Tbilisi that NATO remained ready to give membership to the ex-Soviet republic, as promised at a NATO summit in April, despite the conflict with Russia. "Georgia will become a member of NATO if it wants to -- and it does want to," Merkel said on Sunday."
This is an unfortunate chance of stance. Earlier this year Germany led European resistance to plans, pushed by the US to put Georgia on a track to Nato membership.
NATO is nothing more than a relic of the cold war that ought to be disbanded. Its continued existence, particularly as it continues to grow to the East, is a threat to world and European peace. In February 2003 Nato faced a crisis when France and Belgium vetoed the timing of protective measures for Turkey - actions that were seen to assist an invasion of Iraq those Governments did not support. Nato is also involved in American plans to resusitate Reagan's 'Star Wars' plans for a 'missile defence shield' in Europe - moves that threaten the creation of another arms race.
While I have great sympathy for Georgian and South Ossettian civilians caught up in this tank filled powerplay, I have absolutely no sympathy for the Government of Mikheil Saakashvili, who provoked this crisis by invading the disputed South Ossetia region. Making proclamations about territorial integrity and being a UN friendly country have a hollow ring coming from a Government who enthusiastically supported the war in Iraq.
Perhaps Russia could invite Cuba and Venezuela to join the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.
Of course Russia is not blameless over the current crisis. That said, David Hearst makes a very good point when he suggests the response of the West to the Georgian crisis should be mindful of the political forces within Russia the West wishes to encourage. Opposing the extension of NATO is "not appeasement, nor even realpolitik, nor even an abandonment of democratic principles. On the contrary every time events follow the mindset of the hawks in the Kremlin, Russia's dwindling band of democrats gets smaller still and the possibility of regime change in Moscow is set back another generation. The surest way of keeping the hawks in the Kremlin is to keep advancing eastwards. Its a recipe for war, which Europe has no will to fight."