The Bucharest Summit Revisited | Interview with Nicu Popescu

PONARS Eurasia
11 Apr 2018

(Georgia Today) Georgia has been waiting 10 years for NATO to come good on its promise, given at the 2008 Bucharest Summit, that Georgia (and Ukraine) would one day become members of the Alliance. Not that having a war in 2008 (ditto for Ukraine) helped matters, but still. How big was the Bucharest Summit for Georgia? A major milestone that had a geopolitical impact or simply a foreshadowing for what was to come? What is its importance and legacy now, ten years later? We asked Dr. Nicu Popescu, Senior Analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies and author of a multitude of books and articles on the Post-Soviet sphere, to explain it all in an exclusive interview for our “Messages from Brussels” series.

10 years on and looking back, what were the main implications of the Bucharest Summit?

It has been a heavy decade for Georgia as well as for European security. You can’t delink the NATO Bucharest Summit with the war in Georgia. Looking from 2018, the two events come together, signaling not only a complete breakdown of relations between the EU, NATO and Russia but a kind of militarization of Russian foreign policy where Russia started pursuing its foreign policy goals through military means. It was grossly underestimated in 2008, but of course this came back into the center of the foreign policy agenda in Europe with the wars in Ukraine and Syria as well as with the propaganda cyber war that so defines the foreign policy debate in the USA and Europe today.

That famous promise given to Georgians and Ukrainians that they would join NATO; How much of a game changer was it?

It definitely fed the already-existing Russian paranoia about NATO. The growing concerns and fears that at some point NATO could enlarge to Georgia and Ukraine were there even before this promise was given; but then this promise exacerbated those fears. [...]

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