NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, said on May 1 that Georgia “continues to improve” and the Alliance is now looking at “next steps” to bring the country “even closer” to NATO.
Speaking at a news conference after meeting with Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze in Tbilisi, Appathurai said that in the lead up to NATO foreign ministerial meeting in late June and summit in early September in Wales, the Alliance is now assessing progress made by the aspirant countries.
“I can tell you that in overall this assessment in NATO is positive. Year after year Georgia continues to improve and that’s because of the hard work done in this country,” Appathurai said.
He said that “what Russia says or does will not influence our decision” over NATO’s open door policy.
“We have consistently assessed Georgia’s progress based on two things – reforms and Georgia’s contribution to international peace and security and those will remain the prisms through which we look at this process; in other words we will judge Georgia on Georgia’s merits and regardless what’s happening in elsewhere and regardless of comments from the Kremlin or elsewhere,” he said.
It remains still unclear what the “next step” might be to, as Appathurai put it, bring Georgia closer to NATO.
Georgia’s Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania, said on April 30 that in response to crisis in Ukraine, NATO should be considering Georgia’s accession to the Alliance, but that’s not the case and instead the focus is made on discussions on Membership Action Plan (MAP) and even that is not yet decided.