President Bush told his Georgian counterpart he would press for Georgia’s NATO integration at the Bucharest summit in April. President Saakashvili said after the meeting in Oval Office on March 19, that he had heard “everything we wanted to hear” from the U.S. President.
The both leaders made statements for the press; however, they did not take any questions.
“The Bucharest summit is coming up. Georgia's aspirations will be decided at the Bucharest summit,” President Bush said. “MAP [NATO Membership Action Plan] application, of course, as the President [Saakashvili] full well knows, is not membership. MAP is a process that will enable NATO members to be comfortable with their country eventually joining. I believe that NATO benefits with a Georgian membership. I believe Georgia benefits from being a part of NATO. And I told the President it's a message I'll be taking to Bucharest soon.”
The U.S. President has also given personal praise to Saakashvili by saying: “I admire the President.” “I admire what Georgia has gone through and what Georgia is doing,” he added.
Before making remarks about Georgia’s NATO aspiration, Bush spoke about Georgia’s economic progress and hailed the Saakashvili’s administration for adopting “a very simplified tax code.” “I tried to simplify our tax code. It's difficult to do. I congratulate you on simplifying yours and I congratulate you about your rates of growth,” he said.
Bush then welcomed Georgia’s “contribution to democracy movement” not only in Georgia itself but “in places like Iraq.” March 19 marked the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq.
“The citizens of Georgia must know that the troops that have been provided there are brave, courageous professionals, and have made a significant difference,” Bush said.
In his remarks President Bush also reiterated the U.S. support towards peaceful resolutions of conflicts and Georgia’s territorial integrity.
In his response to President Bush’s remarks Saakashvili thanked the United States for “unequivocal” and “unwavering support for our freedom, for our democracy, for our territorial sovereignty, and for protecting Georgia's borders, and for Georgia's NATO aspirations.”
Saakashvili also said that the Bush administration’s support towards Georgia “will stay as a photographic memory in our people's minds, and we will always remember it.”
This was the two Presidents’ fourth meeting since 2004. In 2005 Saakashvili hosted the U.S. President in Tbilisi.