Fewer people in Georgia-yet still a majority-are expressing support for their country to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), according to a poll by the Institute of Polling and Marketing, Baltic Surveys/Gallup, and the International Republican Institute. 63 per cent of respondents back NATO accession, down 24 points since September.
NATO was originally formed in 1949 as an agreement of collaboration designed to prevent a possible attack from the Soviet Union on North America or Western Europe during the Cold War. In March 2004, NATO added seven more nations, six of which were once members of the Warsaw Pact-a military alliance of Eastern European Soviet countries.
According to international regulations, South Ossetia and Abkhazia belong to Georgia-a former Soviet republic. In the early 1990s, both pro-Russian regions became de facto independent but failed to be fully recognized as sovereign nations. Separatist factions operate in both regions.
In August 2008, a military conflict broke out between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, where many Russian citizens live. On Aug. 8, Georgian forces entered South Ossetia to assert sovereignty over the region, and Russia responded with a full military operation that saw Russian soldiers take control of Georgian territory beyond South Ossetia. A ceasefire was later brokered by the European Union (EU). On Aug. 26, the Russian government officially recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Georgia is currently led by pro-Western politicians. Last year, it was promised access to NATO.
On May 3, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev accused NATO of "muscle-flexing" as it was confirmed that close to 1,000 NATO soldiers will conduct military exercises at a Georgian army base east of Tbilisi this month.
Do you support Georgia joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?
Feb. 2009 Sept. 2008
Support 63% 87%
Oppose 17% 8%
Not sure 11% 6%