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Georgia to move towards NATO

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, September 9
“Georgia has all the necessary tools to move towards NATO membership,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated during his visit in Tbilisi on September 7.

However, Stoltenberg said he could not name an exact date for when Georgia will become a member of the Alliance.

“I think that the presence of the North Atlantic Council representing all 28 Allies - and also Montenegro which is now in the process of joining NATO - the presence of all of us here today shows the strong commitment and the strong partnership between NATO and Georgia,” Stoltenberg said.

“NATO and Georgia have a remarkable, mutually supportive relationship. Our partnership is strong. And our partnership is getting even stronger,” the Secretary General added.

Stoltenberg stressed “Georgia has all the necessary tools to move towards NATO membership.”

The Secretary General was referring to the NATO-Georgia Commission, the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, the NATO-Georgia Joint Training Centre and the presence of NATO experts in Tbilisi helping to bolster the country’s defence reforms.

“These are key building blocks for Georgia as aspirant to NATO membership,” Stoltenberg said, appealed the country to keep on progress and reforms which could play a key role for Georgia’s NATO membership.

“I cannot say the exact dates but recognize the progress Georgia has achieved and assess the close relationships between NATO and Georgia at the highest level,” he said.

Stoltenberg added that NATO continued working with Georgia in terms of conducting reforms that will allow the country to be closer to NATO membership.

On another note, Stoltenberg highlighted the importance of Georgia’s October 8 Parliamentary elections.

“In line with Georgia’s steady progress, we look forward to the upcoming elections meeting the highest democratic standards with free and fair elections,” he said.

Before making the statements, the NATO leaders took part in a NATO-Georgia Commission meeting, where Stoltenberg, ambassadors from across NATO and Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, discussed Georgia’s contributions to transatlantic security, regional security, and Tbilisi’s reform progress.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili thanked the Secretary General for the visit of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and indicated that Georgia considers it to be “yet another sign of support of Alliance.”

Particular attention was paid to the steps taken in the area of increasing the country's defensibility as well as NATO's important contribution in this area.

NATO representatives highlighted Georgia’s merit in protecting of international peace and security.

Kvirikashvili stressed that “Georgia would spare no effort to hold elections compliant with the democratic norms and international standards.”

Commenting on the visit, Georgia’s Minister of Euro Integration Davit Bakradze said the arrival of NAC and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg was “another step forwards to secure Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.”

It was the fourth visit to Georgia of the North Atlantic Council, which is NATO’s political decision-making body, made up of ambassadors from NATO member-states.

On the second day of the visit, Stoltenberg met the Parliament Speaker and Georgian lawmakers.

“I would like to give a high estimation to the activity of all Georgian Members of Parliament (MPs) in terms of enhancement of democratic institutions of Georgia,” Stoltenberg said.

“On the way for fundamental reforming, Georgia achieved significant progress. You have enhanced rule of law and continue reforming in defense and security sector,” Stoltenberg added and stressed reforms were very important for Georgian people to help assimilate to the standards of NATO membership.

Georgia’s Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili stated the NAC meeting in Tbilisi meant Georgia was a “fully-fledged participant of the alliance’s activities.”

“It is very important for us, for most of the political parties not asking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for NATO integration but asking which way is the shortest and most effective to become a full-fledged member,” Usupashvili stated.