Bucharest Summit decision reiterated in Lisbon
By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, November 22
In the final declaration of Lisbon Summit, adopted on November 19, NATO reaffirmed the decision made at Bucharest Summit in 2008 that Georgia will become a member of the alliance.
“We strongly encourage and actively support Georgia’s continued implementation of all necessary reforms, particularly democratic, electoral and judicial reforms, as well as security and defence sector reforms, in order to advance its Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” the document reads “We welcome Georgia’s important contributions to NATO operations, in particular to ISAF. We reiterate our continued support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders,” it continues.
NATO allies called on Russia to reverse its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. “We want to see a true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia and we will act accordingly, with the expectation of reciprocity from Russia,” the Declaration reads and states, “On this firm basis, we urge Russia to meet its commitments with respect to Georgia, as mediated by the European Union on 12 August and 8 September 2008.”
Earlier on November 19, the Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili met his US counterpart, Barack Obama on the sidelines of Lisbon NATO Summit. It was Saakashvili’s first tete-a-tete meeting with Obama. The Presidents of the US and Georgia discussed “further strengthening bilateral relations and increasing our cooperation,” according to a statement released by the White House on Friday. “President Obama reaffirmed U.S. support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. President Obama expressed his appreciation for Georgia’s significant contributions to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and for the service and sacrifice of its brave troops,” the statement posted on the White House website reads.
President Saakashvili thanked Barack Obama and his Administration for their “steadfast support” of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for “affirming Georgia’s path towards eventual NATO membership,” the Georgian President’s administration reported. Saakashvili stressed the importance of the US assistance in Georgia’s “continued pursuit of democratic and economic reforms” and thanked the US President, Congress and the American people for “their generous financial aid package that helped Georgian during the last two years,” according to Saakashvili’s press service.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting with the US President, the Georgian leader said this had been “the most fruitful” week during his term as a President, assessing the meeting with Obama as an “important message.” Meanwhile Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze said that the Georgian side is very content with the meeting between the two Presidents. “The meeting was businesslike and friendly, just as it should be between strategic allies,” he noted.
The meeting between Saakashvili and Obama was important, “not only symbolically, but the content of the meeting was also important,” Georgian Minister for Reintegration, Temur Iakobashvili said and told journalists in Lisbon. “The US President praised the reforms carried out in Georgia. We talked about issues related to regional security and our neighbours.”
Some Georgian analysts have said that the Georgian side’s evaluations of the meeting between Saakashvili and Obama are “exaggerated.” “Obama made standard assessments. Statements like these were also made by the previous US administration,” analyst Irakli Sesiashvili said, adding that President Obama has not said anything “new or specific.”
However, some analysts suggest that the meeting between the Presidents of Georgia and the US is “an important fact in itself.” “When there is an official meeting between the leaders, not every detail of the meeting is made public. They make a 5 minute statement for media and then there is a meeting behind the closed doors,” analyst Nika Chitadze said, adding that the most important issues are discussed during those closed door meetings.
“We should be objective when assessing the importance of this meeting. The Presidents discussed the issues of cooperation in the framework of the Strategic Partnership Charter and this is an important fact. And of course time will show how exactly the cooperation between Georgia and the US will continue,” Chitadze told The Messenger.
Meanwhile Russian media outlets reported that the issue of Georgia was also discussed on Saturday at the meeting between the US and the Russian Presidents. Citing an anonymous source from the Obama administration, RIA Novosti wrote that the US President told his Russian counterpart about the meeting with President Saakashvili after two years since the Russian-Georgian conflict. “He [Obama] said that the Summit is held to talk not only about cooperation, but also about disagreements and that it might help to ease the differences, which can lead to unwanted consequences,” RIA Novosti reported.