NATO Secretary General's upcoming visit to Tbilisi is a clear message that the Alliance remains committed to its Bucharest summit discussion that Georgia will become NATO member, Davit Bakradze, the Georgian parliamentary chairman, said.
"Visit of the Secretary General is a clear message that NATO-Georgia relations continue in line with the Bucharest summit decisions and it means that Georgia will become NATO member... It is a matter of time and modalities - when and how the membership will occur," he told the Georgian public broadcaster on September 28.
In Tbilisi NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, will meet on October 1 with President Saakashvili, Parliamentary Chairman, Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Foreign Minister, James Appathurai, NATO spokesman said on September 28. During the visit NATO liaison office will be opened in Tbilisi.
During the summit in Bucharest in April, 2008, after heated debates, NATO leaders refused to grant Georgia Membership Action Plan (MAP), a precursor to eventual accession into the Alliance; NATO leaders, however, stated that Georgia would become NATO member sometime in the future. At the time in public statements the Georgian leadership had to welcome the decision. However, after the August war President Saakashvili described this decision by NATO as "a strategic mistake."
In September, 2008 NATO-Georgia Commission was established, which remains a main mechanism through which NATO-Georgia cooperation is supervised, including implementation of reform targets set in Georgia's Annual National Programme (ANP), which is reviewed annually by the Alliance.
ANP, which was described by a NATO diplomat as “a roadmap” for Georgia’s eventual membership, was introduced at NATO foreign ministerial summit in Brussels in December, 2008.
ANP, however, does not replace MAP and NATO leaders during the Strasbourg/Kehl summit in April, 2009 stated that ANP, "without prejudice to further decisions which must be taken about MAP", would help Georgia in advancing its reforms.
The NATO Secretary General's visit comes a week after NATO-Russia foreign ministerial meeting in New York on sidelines of the UN General Assembly, during which Georgia was also raised, and less than two months before NATO leaders' summit in Lisbon on November 19-20.