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NATO-Georgia ties have nothing to do with territorial integrity

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 14
Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, has told Die Zeit that the country’s NATO integration has nothing to do with the restoration of its territorial integrity.

The PM stressed that Russia, which now occupies 20% of Georgia’s land, has a negative view on NATO-Georgia relations and sees the close ties between the alliance and Georgia as a threat.

Kvirikashvili stressed it would be rebuilding trust between Georgia and the people of the occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) that could play a key role in the reintegration progress and not Georgia’s NATO membership.

“Building confidence is the only way to restore territorial integrity. Trust must be restored between Georgians, Abkhazians and Ossetians.

“NATO membership has nothing to do with it. Our cooperation with NATO is not aimed at only gaining military protection; we are referring to shared values and democratic institutions! Georgia has already made a decision: we want to be a member of the European and trans-Atlantic family,” Kvirikashvili stressed.

Kvirikashvili highlighted that the Georgia-NATO partnership would never be a regional threat to any nation; on the contrary, it will increase security.

‘We are trying to show the Russian politicians that Georgia is not Russia’s enemy. A million tourists arrived this year from Russia, but no serious incidents have been seen. It means a lot. There is no rivalry between the Georgian and Russian peoples, and our desire over NATO integration must not be interpreted in the wrong way [by Russian politicians],” Kvirikashvili stated.

Russia, which has signed military deals with the occupied regions over the creation of joint troops, evaluated as NATO-Georgia military exercises as a “rough violation of all international laws” by foreign countries and organisations, and says Georgia-NATO cooperation is a “threat” to regional security.