Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili visited NATO Headquarters on Wednesday (5. February) for the first meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission this year. The NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, thanked Georgia for the outstanding role in NATO operations and praised Georgia’s efforts in implementing important reforms. “Georgia is a strong and committed NATO partner. You play an outstanding role in our operations. You are implementing important reforms. And today we see a more mature democracy in your country, after free and fair presidential elections last year”, the Secretary General said.
Georgia is the largest non-NATO contributor to ISAF. The Georgian Government has pledged financial support and committed to contribute to the Alliance’s mission to train, advise, and assist the Afghan forces after 2014.
The Secretary General stressed that the priority now is to continue implementing reforms across all areas, including the defence sector, the rule of law, and local government.
“We have noted the recent decision to temporarily extend the so-called border zone of Abkhazia further into Georgian territory without the Georgian government’s consent. I have to say we are very concerned about that decision. We remain firmly committed to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and we call on Russia to implement all of its obligations with regards to Georgia”, the Secretary General said. “As we have made clear, the building of fences and other obstacles is unacceptable and it is contrary to international law and Russia’s own commitments. It hampers the free movement and livelihood of the population and it should be reversed. The 21st century is for bridge building not fence building.”
The Secretary General added: “Prime Minister, we stand by our commitments. At the Bucharest Summit in 2008 we decided that Georgia will become a NATO member, provided you meet the necessary requirements. That decision still stands”.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said that there is still work to be done for integration in the Euro-Atlantic community. “But you have moved much closer to NATO. And we will continue to work together with you to help achieve our common goals”, he said.
Georgia has also announced that it will contribute to the NATO-Response Force in 2015.