Georgia has “moved much closer” to NATO, but there is “still work to be done”, NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said after meeting Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili in Brussels on February 5.
“Today we see a more mature democracy in your country after free and fair presidential elections last year,” he told the Georgian PM.
Rasmussen said that detailed agenda of the NATO summit, scheduled in Wales in early September, is not yet decided.
“We have seen substance progress in Georgia and I do believe that the progress will be acknowledged and reflected appropriately at the summit,” Rasmussen said.
PM Garibashvili said that Georgia’s reforms are “positively assessed by the Alliance.”
“And we hope that based on those achievements we will be able to advance on our NATO integration path,” the PM said. “Georgia continues to firmly pursue its goal of membership to the North Atlantic Alliance… The government spares no efforts to continue implementation of reforms, which will bring Georgia closer to NATO.”
The NATO Secretary General reiterated that Georgia is “strong and committed” partner of the Alliance, noting its contribution to ISAF mission and a pledge to provide financial support and training to the Afghan forces in NATO’s post-2014 mission, as well as commitment to contribute to NATO’s Response Force in 2015.
“We are working together to reform Georgia’s security forces to help them achieve NATO standards so they are better able to meet any threats facing [Georgia],” Rasmussen said. “The priority now is to continue implementing reforms across all areas including the defense sector, rule of law and local government.”
He expressed concern over decision without prior agreement with Georgia to extend border zone deeper into breakaway Abkhazia ahead and during the Sochi Olympics. He also said that building of fences and barriers across administrative boundary line of Georgia’s breakaway regions was hampering free movement and livelihood of the local population.
“Twenty first century is for bridge-building not fence-building,” the NATO Secretary General said.