The North Atlantic Council (NAC) will hail Georgia’s progress in reforms when this senior decision-making body of NATO visits Tbilisi in two weeks, James Appathurai, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, said on October 27.
“This visit by the North Atlantic Council, led by the General Secretary, will be first and foremost a visible sign of commitment the NATO has to our partnership with Georgia,” he said at a joint news conference with Georgian State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Issues Giorgi Baramidze.
NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and diplomats from NATO’s senior decision-making body, North Atlantic Council, will visit Georgia on November 9-10.
“I am quite sure that President Saakashvili and the leadership of the country will hear from the North Atlantic Council that they are very positive on the reform progress that Georgia has achieved over the past year,” said Appathurai, who is in Tbilisi to prepare the upcoming visit.
He also said that there always was a room for more progress and highlighted judiciary and electoral reforms. He said that next year’s parliamentary and 2013 presidential elections would be “watched carefully as signs of continued progress that this country is making.”
Appathurai said he would not start speculating on what might happen during the NATO summit in Chicago in May, 2012 and whether it would be possible or not for Georgia receive Membership Action Plan. He, however, said that the Chicago summit would reaffirm “very clearly” the decision of the 2008 Bucharest summit that Georgia would one day join the Alliance.
He said that NATO’s assessment of Georgia’s implementation of its Annual National Programme (ANP) was in overall positive. ANP, a mechanism of cooperation introduced in December 2008, outlines reform targets; it is drawn by the Georgian government and reviewed annually by NATO. The document is not publicly available. Appathurai said that progress in reforms would create “a positive environment” for taking next steps in NATO-Georgia relations.
Giorgi Baramidze, the Georgian state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration issues, said that because of progress in reforms Georgia “deserves” to be granted “a serious step forward” on its path of NATO integration.
He, however, also said, that Georgia already had all the necessary mechanisms with NATO – Annual National Programme and NATO-Georgia Commission – required for the country to carry out reforms in order to prepare for membership.
Referring to Membership Action Plan (MAP), which Georgia was refused to be granted at NATO’s 2008 Bucharest summit, Baramidze said that “name of the mechanism does not matter.”
“What matters is what we are doing; what matters is that Georgia’s democratic institutions are being upgraded to NATO standards,” Baramidze said, adding that skepticism of some countries towards Georgia’s NATO integration is related to timeframe and not to the principle itself.
“In principle decision is already made by all the [NATO-member states] that Georgia will join NATO,” Baramidze said referring to 2008 NATO Bucharest summit decision.
He said that bar set for Georgia “is higher” than it was for other aspirant countries, “but this bar is not so high not to overcome it.”
“There should not be inadequate expectations about NATO accession. But there should not be frustration either, because Georgia will definitely join NATO. It will take not too much time, but not too little time either. It will take several years; we have to pass upcoming elections [in next two years] and after that the process becomes easier. We are focused on reforms,” Baramidze said.