On the second day of a visit to Georgia, the North Atlantic Council met with President Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi and praised Georgia’s role as a special partner of the Alliance.
“This country is, in so many ways, a model partner for NATO. You play a strong role in our operations, you are carrying through important reforms, and you are committed to democracy and to membership of the Alliance,” the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
In a press conference in Tbilisi, Mr Fogh Rasmussen stated that Georgia can count on NATO’s support.
“We support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders. Georgia will become a member of this Alliance, provided you meet the necessary requirements. You will take your rightful place in the Euro-Atlantic family,” Mr Fogh Rasmussen said.
During the visit, the Secretary General also met with Minister of Defence Irakli Alasania and addressed Georgian university students at the National Library in Tbilisi.
“Meeting the requirements for NATO membership must not be viewed only through a military prism. Because NATO is far more than a military Alliance. It is a community of values. It is a family of nations that believes in freedom, democracy, and the rule of law,” he said. “As I look up the path ahead, I can see our shared destination of a stable and democratic Georgia at the heart of the Euro-Atlantic community. Georgia will become a member of NATO. But further work is needed to meet the requirements of membership.”
In Tbilisi the Secretary General and permanent representatives of the North Atlantic Council attended a ceremony for Georgian military personnel preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.
“You play a vital part in stopping extremism and terrorism spreading from Afghanistan to other parts of the world. In Afghanistan, you help make Georgia safer and the world safer,” he said and added: “With more than 1500 personnel deployed in Afghanistan, Georgia is providing more troops than any of NATO’s other partner countries. That is a major contribution, for which all of NATO is extremely grateful.”
The Secretary General and members of the North Atlantic Council also met with other government and parliamentary leaders and representatives of non-governmental organisations, the media, and minority communities.