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Georgia expects nod from NATO in December

RIA Novosti

27/11/2008 16:22 TBILISI, November 27 (RIA Novosti) - NATO member countries should invite Tbilisi to join the alliance at their upcoming meeting in Brussels, the Georgian Euro-Atlantic integration minister said on Thursday.

Georgy Baramidze said that if Georgia does not get an invitation to join the Membership Action Plan on December 2-3, the alliance should offer concrete mechanisms for the country's unhindered integration into NATO.

"For certain political considerations and due to problems related to Russia, some NATO member states are skeptical on the matter," Baramidze said.

He added that talks were ongoing with states backing Georgia and Ukraine's integration into NATO, as well as with those that are opposed to it because of Russia.

"We respect both parties. But what really counts is the final decision, which should not give Russia the impression that it can destroy the unity of the alliance," the minister said.

The U.S. has reportedly launched an unexpected diplomatic initiative in Europe, urging NATO allies to offer Georgia and Ukraine membership in the military alliance without going through a lengthy procedure.

According to some sources, Condoleezza Rice, the outgoing U.S. secretary of state, has had extensive telephone conversations with French, German and other European envoys, asking them to agree to waive the formal application process.

Russia's permanent representative to NATO said on Wednesday Rice is trying to sabotage the work of Barack Obama's yet-to-confirmed administration.

Dmitry Rogozin said he hoped that European nations would "make a decision in the interest of their respective countries and European security as a whole."

At the Brussels meeting, due to take place on December 2-3, the ministers are to assess the readiness of Ukraine and Georgia for Membership Action Plans, a key step for membership in the 26-nation military alliance.

NATO refused at its Bucharest summit in April to grant Georgia and Ukraine action plans, but promised to review the decision in December. The countries had received strong U.S. backing for their bids. However, concerns by Germany and France that doing so would unnecessarily antagonize Russia won the day.

The U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, Daniel Fried, was reported on Wednesday as stating that the two former Soviet republics had a lot of work to do before they could receive a NATO membership offer

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