"Georgia’s accession to NATO would prove Saakashvili’s relevancy"

Granting Georgia NATO membership will be an act of confidence by the West in Mikhail Saakashvili, says Tatyana Parkhalina, NATO program director from the Centre for European Security

In January 2008, more than 70% of Georgians backed the idea of joining the North Atlantic Alliance and in the spring of last year preparations began for NATO-led exercises to be held in Georgia this May.

The hunger for Euro-Atlantic integration wasn’t affected by the conflict with South Ossetia last August, which brought Russia back into the fray. The majority of Georgians still want to join the alliance.

All of this could prove to be in President Mikhail Saakashvili's favour, suggests Tatyana Parkhalina, as NATO membership will prove that the West still perceives his government as relevant.