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PM Ivanishvili meets NATO Secretary General in NATO

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, November 15
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili held his first official meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels, on November 14. After meeting Secretary General and PM jointly talked to the press.

The Secretary General commented on the latest elections in Georgia, assessing it as “free and fair”, but now it is time for consolidation in the government, so Georgia can pass the true test of democracy. Rasmussen calls on the president and PM to cooperate “But the true test of democracy is the ability of the different actors to work together for the good of the country. As I told president Saakashvili on Monday, I strongly urge both you and the Prime Minister to cooperate and make cohabitation work in full respect for the constitution in the months to come. This is vital for the Georgian people and for Georgia’s future.”

Rasmussen welcomes the aspiration of the new government to join the alliance. He appreciates the contribution Georgia has made to the NATO missions. “Georgia is a close and committed partner to NATO. You recently doubled your contribution to our mission in Afghanistan. You’ve already joined the planning process for the NATO-led mission to train and assist the Afghan forces after 2014.” Ramsussen commented.

Speaking about future membership of Georgia, the Secretary General made it clear that NATO will be strictly committed to the decision made at the Bucharest Summit in 2008, promising the country to be accepted to the alliance. However, Georgia has to realize that there is still a lot to be done to achieve final integration with NATO. “But membership will take more work and more reforms and it will take constructive cooperation between all branches of government. So, I encourage all parties in Georgia to reach a consensus on Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic policies and work together to pursue the necessary reforms and meet the highest democratic standards. And I am confident that Georgia’s democracy will pass that test,” Rasmussen said.

NATO chief also raised the issue about the latest criminal charges against former interior minister Bacho Akhalaia, as well as chief of army staff Brig. Gen. Giorgi Kalandadze and former commander of 4th army brigade Zurab Shamatava on the meeting. Rasmussen commented later on the press conference that in the case that the trials “are perceived to be politically motivated; that would be damaging for the image of the country and the government even if it’s not true.”

Ivanishvili also shares the same concern as the Secretary General, that it can be harmful for everybody if the trials become portrayed as a political persecution. However, the PM assured the NATO chief that the trials against the former officials will take place in “accordance with the basic principles of the rule of law.” “There will be no selective justice in Georgia, but there will be justice. Those, who commit a wrongdoing, will definitely be punished.” Ivanishvili commented.

The PM said that he had offered NATO to monitor the ongoing criminal proceedings in any form. However, the Secretary General expressed his trust to the Georgian government; therefore, there will be no need to send a monitoring group to the country in order to study the situation.

The issue of the postponed NATO military committee to visit Georgia was also raised by Ivanishvili on the meeting and he received a promise from the Secretary General that the committee will definitely reschedule the visit in the near future.

The Georgian party is also looking forward for the NATO Ministerial in December. Ivanishvili said that everything possible will be done for the further development of the democratic institutions and expressed his hope that the efforts of Georgia will be considered on the upcoming ministerial.