KYIV (FNI) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Georgia on August 23. Tbilisi Merkel visited 10 years ago and as officials say, this visit is of great importance for the country. According to the Prime Minister of Georgia mamuka bakhtadze, the visit of Angela Merkel underlines the degree of close relations between Georgia and Germany. German political scientist Uwe Halbach in an exclusive interview with Front News International spoke about the possible chances of Georgia's entry into the EU and NATO and about international relations between Georgia and Germany as a whole.
Uwe Halbach is a political scientist, scientific director of the German Institute of International Affairs and Security. Scope of Research: Eastern Europe, Eurasia.
FRONT NEWS INTERNATIONAL- what to expect from the visit of the Federal Chancellor, is there any possibility of changes in the plan for European and Euro-Atlantic integration?
UWE HALBACH - Chancellor Angela Merkel travels to all three states of the South Caucasus. A special place in Georgia is its determined orientation toward foreign and security policy towards the Euro-Atlantic world, cooperation with the EU and NATO, which is viewed with discontent in Russia. With the EU, Georgia participates in the process of the association that Germany supports, but which in the foreseeable future does not yet lead to Georgia joining the EU. The situation is similar to the situation with NATO, with which Georgia successfully cooperates without joining the North Atlantic Alliance. I do not see any fundamental changes on this path lately. The last event in relations between the EU and Georgia was the liberalization of visas for a three-month stay of Georgian citizens in the Schengen area, which entered into force last year.
FNI- During the reign of President Saakashvili, relations between Georgia and Germany have cooled significantly. One of the main reasons is the position of Chancellor Angela Merkel during the five-day war. Has the Chancellor's attitude to Georgia been changed?
UH - The government, within the framework of the Georgian Dream Party, which came to power in the parliamentary elections in October 2012, made relations with the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Russia more pragmatic than its predecessors. This was also noted in Germany. However, Georgia continues to complain about the "occupation" of these areas by Russian troops and the "bordeisation" policy supported by Moscow, which repeatedly "conducts" attacks from Abkhazia and South Ossetia to tiny areas of the territory under the Georgian administration. Probably, this will be a question raised by the Georgian representatives against Chancellor Merkel in Tbilisi.
FNI - Georgian political analysts are sure that this visit will contribute to Georgia's close integration into the institutions of the EU and NATO. What can be the reaction of Russia?
UH - As I said earlier, Georgia is cooperating with its Euro-Atlantic partners. This shows closer integration without the direct involvement of members. Even this closer integration without specific prospects for accession is viewed skeptically in Moscow. Russia is also showing its discontent with the integration competition between Russia and the West. In the context of the last NATO summit in July 2018, Russia made sharp comments on the possible entry of Georgia into the Alliance. Prime Minister Medvedev warned of a "terrible conflict".
FNI - Are there any opportunities for Georgia's accession to the EU and NATO? And when can integration occur in your opinion?
UH - At the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008, Georgia essentially promised to join, but the promise was not specific. EUH - At the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008, Georgia essentially promised to join, but the promise was not specific. Especially Germany and France were against Georgia. Georgia has made a huge contribution to the international security mission in Afghanistan and Iraq in terms of its population and armed forces. Membership in the EU is also not a direct goal, although Georgia has satisfied the conditions for accession better than other candidate countries from the Eastern Neighborhood and Partnership region. For example, corruption in Georgia was better resolved than in Moldova or Ukraine.