There is still work to be done, but in overall Georgia has “moved much closer to NATO,” the Alliance’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on December 4 while opening NATO-Georgia Commission meeting on the foreign ministerial level in Brussels.
He said that a lot has been achieved since the NATO-Georgia Commission was launched in 2008, coming “closer to fulfilling the promise” of the 2008 Bucharest summit, when the Alliance’s leaders declared that Georgia will become a NATO-member provided that Georgia fulfils the necessary criteria.
Rasmussen noted Georgia’s “remarkable contribution” to ISAF mission and its pledge to provide financial support for the Afghan forces, as well as to train, advise and assist them after 2014.
“You have done a lot at home, too. Impressive defence reforms; and a more mature democracy, after free and fair presidential elections this fall. There is still work to be done, but overall, you have moved much closer to NATO.” the NATO Secretary General said.
Speaking at a news conference after the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting, Rasmussen hailed Georgia as “a unique and highly valued partner for NATO.”
“There is a lot that the Georgian people can be proud of,” he said. "This year’s [presidential] elections and the parliamentary elections last year were free, fair and inclusive. Georgia’s democratic process continues to mature. And in that way, Georgia serves as a model for the wider region.”
He said that NATO recognizes Georgia’s “achievements in making the democracy stronger, its judiciary more independent, and its defence and security sectors more transparent and more accountable.”
Calling on the Georgian authorities to continue to strengthen democracy, Rasmussen said that “cooperation between government and opposition will remain essential to carry on reforms.”
“We also look to the Georgian authorities to clearly and actively uphold the rule of law for all citizens,” he said.
“Georgia’s ambitious reform agenda has an ambitious goal: integration into the Euro-Atlantic family, where Georgia naturally belongs. So I am confident that the new government will bring a new energy and a new momentum to our cooperation,” he said.
Also on December 4, NATO foreign ministers met their Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in frames of the NATO-Russia Council. Responding to a question on Georgia and NATO expansion, Lavrov said that the enlargement of the Alliance was a holdover of the Cold War logic.
“It implies not only preserving the dividing lines, which we have all committed to remove, but it’s also implies moving them [these lines] further to the East,” Lavrov said. “No one should take steps creating risks to the security of partners.”
The NATO Secretary General said that he strongly disagrees with the position that NATO enlargement has contributed to more insecurity in the Euro-Atlantic area.
“There's no contradiction between being a member of NATO and at the same time being able to have such a [partnership] relationship with Russia,” Rasmussen said.