NATO Defence Ministers met with their Georgian counterpart Irakli Alasania in frames of NATO-Georgia Commission in Brussels on 5 June to discuss Georgia’s reform plans and further cooperation.
“We greatly appreciate the active support that Georgia has made to our operations – past and present,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in his opening remarks at the NATO-Georgia Commission. “We greatly value the professionalism and the courage of Georgian troops. And we honor their sacrifice. These efforts are all the more impressive given the demanding defence reforms that Georgia is now undertaking.”
He said that NATO was closely following Georgia’s domestic developments.
“We are looking to the Georgian government to respect the rule of law, human rights and the rights of minorities. And we encourage Georgia to continue key reforms and to conduct free and fair presidential elections later this year,” Rasmussen said.
“And I look forward to a future in which Georgia is in the Alliance. The decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Bucharest still stand. Georgia will become a member of NATO provided it meets the requirements for membership,” he added.
NATO said in a press release that defense ministers from the Alliance thanked Georgia for its readiness to participate in the post-2014 mission in Afghanistan “in order to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces” and hailed Georgia’s “dynamic efforts and achievements in moving towards Euro-Atlantic integration.”
Alasania also participated on June 5 in a meeting of NATO defence ministers with counterparts from non-NATO ISAF contributing nations. The meetings were part of two-day NATO defense ministerial event that focused on cyber defence, the mission in Afghanistan and military capabilities.
Speaking at a news conference, summing up two-day NATO defense ministerial meeting, Rasmussen said on June 5, that Georgia was NATO’s “committed partner.” He also said that Georgia was conducting reforms which “are demanding, and far-reaching.”
“Today, [defense] ministers expressed their appreciation for all Georgia has done to support our common goals. They reaffirmed NATO’s continued support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders. And they made clear that they are ready to support and assist Georgia as it moves ahead with its reforms,” Rasmussen said.
“Our partnership is based on values. NATO stands for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. So we look to Georgia to respect the rule of law, human rights and the rights of minorities. And we encourage Georgia to continue key reforms and to conduct free and fair presidential elections later this year,” he added.
Asked about so called ‘borderisation’ process by the Russian troops across breakaway South Ossetia’s administrative boundary line, Rasmussen said that installation of wire fences was “a violation of international law” and of 2008 ceasefire agreements.
“Building fences impedes freedom of movement, it can further inflame tensions, it is simply not acceptable,” the NATO Secretary General said. “We urge Russia to live up to her international obligations.”
Asked about detention of former PM and secretary general of UNM party Vano Merabishvili, Rasmussen responded that NATO was “following these developments with great concern.”
“Obviously we are not going to interfere with legal cases and the judiciary in Georgia. In today’s meeting with the Georgian Minister of Defense I made clear, and ministers made clear, that we take it for granted that the Georgian authorities will fully respect the fundamental principles of rule of law and will guarantee due process. We have made clear that even the perception of politically motivated arrests should be avoided and we expect Georgia to live up to those fundamental principles,” Rasmussen said.