The report “NATO Membership for Georgia: In U.S. and European Interest” released by the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Foreign Policy on January 29 prompted pro-Kremlin media, politicians and civil society organizations to respond with spreading manipulative narratives. One of the most widespread opinions promoted by them was that the West was allegedly trying to make Georgia give up Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region in exchange for NATO membership.
Manipulations were disseminated by a number of Georgian media outlets, among them Sakinformi, Georgia and the World, and Obieqtivi TV. Sputnik Georgia released an article with a misleading title: “NATO membership at the expense of territories? The Heritage Foundation’s report was assessed in Georgia.” Jondi Bagaturia, leader of the Georgian Troupe party, wrote on his Facebook page on February 9 that the U.S. Embassy officially offered the Georgian government NATO membership excluding Abkhazia and Samachablo. Bagaturia’s Facebook post was reposted by news agencies The Georgian Times and Geomediapress.ge.
The Heritage Foundation’s report does not suppose that Georgia should join NATO at the expense of giving up its occupied territories. Luke Coffey, the author of the report, explains that his proposal offers to temporarily exclude the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia from the Article 5 protection, until Georgia restores its territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. It should be noted that the Heritage Foundation is an independent research organization and it does not represent an official position of any country.
Fact No.1. The report released by the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Foreign Policy notes that Georgia should join NATO within its internationally recognized borders.
The part of the report on Georgia’s NATO integration reads that Georgia can be invited to join NATO by amending Article 6 of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty (which defines which territories fall under the Article 5 protection) to temporarily exclude the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia from the Article 5 protection. It also stresses that this would only be a temporary measure until Georgia’s full, internationally recognized territory is re-established by peaceful and diplomatic means at a future date. Luke Coffey, the author of the report, explains that allowing Georgia to join NATO with an amended Article 6 is also consistent with Georgia’s non-use-of-force pledge regarding regaining control of the occupied regions
Besides, the report underlines that Georgia’s territorial integrity must be respected and no outside actor (in this case, Russia) should have a veto on membership or closer relations with organizations like the European Union or NATO.
In the interview with Tabula on February 8, Luke Coffey reiterated that Georgia’s territorial integrity would not be questioned. He specified that all of Georgia would join NATO in line with the internationally recognized borders, including Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia. “However, the Article 5 guarantee will only apply to those regions of Georgia that are not under Russian occupation,” he added.
Fact No. 2. The Heritage Foundation is an independent research organization. Its publications do not represent an official position of any country, including the U.S. Government.
The Heritage Foundation is an independent American research organization, which does not represent an official position of any country, including the U.S. Government, Luke Coffey said at a panel discussion in Tbilisi on February 7.
The report “NATO Membership for Georgia: In U.S. and European Interest” reviews Georgia’s progress in NATO integration process, U.S.-Georgia relations, Russia’s continuous aggression and borderization. The author suggests that it is in America’s national interest to deepen the bilateral relationship with Georgia, help the Georgians improve their military capabilities, and keep Georgia on the path to NATO membership.
Changing quotation, source and the context - Incorrectly interpreting facts, statements and sources in order to establish doubts and create false perceptions in the audience.
Misleading title - Facts or statements in the article are correct, or mostly correct, but the title is misleading.
Manipulative interpretation of the Heritage Foundation’s report by the pro-Kremlin sources and its portrayal as the U.S. or NATO position aimed at arousing groundless doubts within the public and disseminating Russian propaganda messages about the West allegedly pressing on Georgia to give up its occupied territories.
On February 9, Sputnik Georgia released an article about the panel discussion on the Heritage Foundation’s report with a misleading title: “NATO membership at the expense of territories? The Heritage Foundation’s report was assessed in Georgia.”
In an article “The Path towards NATO: U.S. and Georgia Went Separate Ways” released by Eurasia Daily on February 5, Irakli Chkheidze, the author, misinterprets the Heritage Foundation’s report, saying that if Georgia officially has to give up Abkhazia and South Ossetia, even temporarily, in exchange for NATO membership, one should remember that temporary can easily turn into permanent and this will happen thanks to the United States.
Prepared by Dali Kurdadze