Foreign Policy Blogs

U.S. Asst. Secretary of Defense Affirms U.S. support for Georgia's NATO aspirations

U.S. Asst. Secretary of Defense Affirms U.S. support for Georgia's NATO aspirations

LISBON – The U.S. Assistant Secretary for Defense for international security affairs, Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, affirmed U.S. support for Georgia’s aspirations for NATO membership here at the Young Atlantacist Youth Summit taking place alongside official deliberations over a new Strategic Concept for the transatlantic alliance.

Vershbow said that NATO partnerships with Russia, Ukraine and Georgia were not a “zero sum game” and that the door was open to all three, including Russia, to eventual NATO membership.

“The U.S. continues to take the 2008 NATO commitment to Georgia’s eventual membership seriously,” he said, adding that the U.S. would continue to support Georgia’s efforts to meet the political and economic reforms necessary for membership in the body.

Vershbow also highlighted the importance of missile defense, calling cooperation with NATO partners “very promising” despite disagreement on the location and intention of new missile defense systems in Europe, which the U.S. insists are aimed at preventing Iran from launching ballistic missile attacks against NATO allies.

When asked by youth delegates about American concerns over burden sharing, Vershbow affirmed that Europe was still Washington’s “first parter” when it comes to defense and economic relations, but acknowledged the current spending gaps on defense programs.  There is no doubt, he said, that the new Strategic Concept must be backed by financial commitments, and that economic realities require getting “more bang for the buck,” when it comes to defense development and procurement.



Robert Nolan

Robert Nolan is Editor-in-Chief of New Media at the Foreign Policy Association and a writer and producer of the Great Decisions Television Series on PBS. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Zimbabwe and graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, he has interviewed numerous heads of state, Nobel Prize winners, artists and musicians, and policymakers.