On November 22, 2022, Levan Nikolaishvili, an expert close to the government, responded to the expression by US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan. Degnan’s statement concerned comments by David Kramer, executive director of the George W. Bush Center, on the imposition of sanctions on Bidzina Ivanishvili. Nikoleishvili slammed Kelly Degnan for the comment in which the US ambassador said Kramer knows Georgia well and is worried and worried about its fate. In this regard, in the form of a Facebook commentNikolaishvili asked to what extent the fact that Kramer offers Georgia NATO membership in exchange for renunciation of Abkhazia and Samachablo could be seen as an expression of goodwill.
Nikoleishvili’s post was distributed in a coordinated manner by the following pro-government media outlets: POSTV, imedinews.ge, lideri.ge, xnews.ge, Wrought, kvira.ge, reportiori.ge, Info 9, nsp.ge, newspress.ge. Notably, the above media outlets published Nikoleishvili’s post with identical headlines, drawing attention to the alleged concession by Abkhazia and Samakhablo in the event of NATO accession: “Levan Nikoleishvili to Kelly Degnan: Who loves Georgia, David Kramer? Isn’t that the one offering Georgia to give up Abkhazia and Samakhablo in exchange for NATO membership?”.
Levan Nikolaishvili’s claim that Kramer is promising Georgia NATO membership in exchange for abandoning Abkhazia and Samachablo is manipulative. For years, pro-Kremlin actors have linked manipulative assessments of Article 5 of NATO with Luke Coffey’s initiative. The mentioned initiative includes the accelerated integration of Georgia into NATO and the extension of Article 5 to the occupied territories after the restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity. Coffey’s initiative was voiced by Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the EPRC conference in 2019 and Levan Nikolaishvili’s manipulative comment is linked to David Kramer’s comment on this initiative.
In 2019, David Kramer commented on former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s statement on the occupied territories of Georgia and Georgia’s integration into NATO. The initiative first appeared in 2018 report by Heritage Foundation columnist Luke Coffey. According to the mentioned initiative, in case of accelerated NATO accession of Georgia, Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which concerns collective defense, should be extended to the Russian-occupied territories of Georgia after Georgia regains control over these territories.
In 2019, Rasmussen spoke about the same initiative at the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) conference, noting that Georgia could start a discussion on whether it is acceptable for the country to join the alliance, since Article 5 could only cover the areas controlled by the Government of Georgia. As an example, Rasmussen cited the German precedent written down that although Germany was divided in two, despite having joined NATO in 1955, NATO rules only applied to West Germany until 1991 and after reunification these rules were extended to East Germany as well.
David Kramer cleared Rasmussen’s statement noting that he thought how to open NATO’s door to Georgia without giving Russia veto power over Georgia’s aspirations. According to Kramer, this does not mean that Abkhazia and what is known as South Ossetia are recognized as independent states.
As for Article 5 of NATO charterit concerns the collective defense obligation, which implies that an attack on one of the NATO member states means an attack on all allies, and provides for the implementation of collective defense measures.
Especially Kramer has supports repeatedly the territorial integrity of Georgia. Most recently, in September 2022, he visited the village of Odzisi, which is adjacent to the occupation line. burdensome that this delegation’s visit is an expression of support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and that support for Georgia will continue in the future so that Georgia will one day be reunified within its internationally recognized borders.
The manipulative claim that Georgia must give up Russian-held territories in exchange for NATO accession has been made by pro-Kremlin media and actors for years, including one Irma Inaschwili, the leader of the “Alliance of Patriots of Georgia”, Nino Burjanadze, the chairman of “United Georgia – Democratic Movement”, Tamaz Mekhiauri, former member of “Georgian Dream”. Among the media are pro-Kremlin Saqinform journalist Arno Khidirbegishvili, Tvalsazrisi.ge and others.
For more information on this topic, see the articles created by “Myth Detector”:
Statements by members and supporters of the ruling party against David Kramer intensified after Kramer issued a statement sanctioning the founder of the “Georgian Dream”, Bidzina Ivanishvili. According to Kramer, without sanctions, the country is clearly going in the wrong direction, and although Ivanishvili has no official role in the government and party, he is the person who actually controls these processes, which is why concrete sanctions should apply to Bidzina Ivanishvili and the people, who follow his commands.
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