TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has renewed his old election pledge about getting his country into NATO, as he is facing parliamentary and presidential elections.

The promise has been a mainstay of Saakashvili’s election campaigning since the rose revolution in 2003.

Ahead of the 2004 parliamentary and presidential elections, he promised to restore Georgia’s territorial integrity and secure NATO membership before the end of his second term. But none of the promises were met.

Despite this, Saakashvili still promises NATO integration, but now he says it will happen in 2014, which is after the end of his last term.

But the Georgian leader says it will be decided in October whether this will happen.

In October there will be held parliamentary elections, which will decide what the new constitution which comes into force in 2013 will look like.

Following a constitutional amendment in 2010, the country is to become a semi-parliamentary republic after the presidential elections in 2013, which means that parliament appoints a prime minister, whose powers will significantly increase after 2013, and the president’s powers will be reduced.

Many people expect Saakashvili to assume the position as prime minister after the end of his second term in 2013, often termed a ‘Russian scenario’.

This suspicion has been increased by recent measures taken by authorities against Saakashvili’s main competitor, Bidzina Ivanishvili, like revoking his citizenship and not restoring it, and issuing him a fine for tens of millions of lari, and this continues today.

Speaking in front of regional governors gathered at his presidential palace in Tbilisi, Saakashvili said: “We have a real chance of becoming NATO members in 2014, and this will be decided in October.”

He further spoke about the importance of the upcoming elections and that the next few months will be a step forward in terms of NATO membership.

“We should all roll up our sleeves. By redoubling our efforts, we should show that people’s hope is not in vain. We should be closer to people and show that Georgia’s common success will be the success of each Georgian family, progress of each Georgian family, each Georgian family’s hope coming true.”

He promised that he will personally ensure that election fraud and any attempt at bribing voters will be punished.

In indirect terms, he said the state will make Bidzina Ivanishvili pay the USD 45 million fine. Ivanishvili himself considers the fine illegal and is not going to pay.

The president said ‘some forces will try to spread lies about the activity of officials’. He appealed to government representatives by asking them not to allow the use of administrative resources for election purposes.

“Against a background of certain forces trying to buy our democracy with renewed efforts, our answer will be to twofold. On the one hand, the proportinal amount of force by whith the court system confronts it, and on the other hand, our increased disproportionate will that the upcoming elections be maximally open, transparent and democratic.”