TBILISI, October 27 (Itar-Tass) — The NATO Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, said on Thursday that Georgia was a reliable partner of the North Atlantic Alliance.
Before an international conference on defence and security of Georgia, Appathurai said the forum would also focus on the agenda of an upcoming session of the NATO Council due to take place in Tbilisi in November and on a visit to Georgia by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
According to the NATO special envoy, these events prove that the Alliance remains committed to the Bucharest summit’s decisions.
Georgian Vice-Prime Minister, State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Georgy Baramidze told journalists that the participants in the conference “are discussing the reforms, which are being carried out in the country in the fields of defence and security”. “We’ll consider the issues, which are important for Georgia’s integration into NATO and, finally, the country’s accession to the Alliance,” the vice-prime minister stressed.
Georgian Deputy Defence Minister Nodar Kharshiladze said the two-day conference on defence and security in Georgia “is devoted to the country’s reform activities in the field of defence and security, the country’s integration into NATO and further prospects”.
Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze said, “The visit proves NATO’s political support for Georgia and points to the Alliance’s interest in our country and the commitment to its position on Georgia.”
During the upcoming visit, Appathurai will have meetings with the leadership of the Georgian Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister Nika Gilauri.
This will be Appathurai’s second visit to Georgia as the NATO Special Representative. The first visit was held in April 2011.
The talks focused on cooperation between Georgia and the Alliance. Appathurai had meetings with a Vice-Prime Minister and State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Georgy Baramidze, Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaya, Security Council Secretary Giga Bokeria, and State Minister for Reintegration Eka Tkeshelashvili, as well as the leaders of major opposition organisations.
Appathurai said that NATO believes relationship with Georgia to be successful.
“I'd like to notice that the Bucharest decision remains in force, Georgia will become NATO member when it meets the standards and if it really wants this membership. This year is rather successful in terms of NATO-Georgia relations; the national plan is successfully fulfilled,” Appathurai said.
The NATO Secretary-General confirmed earlier that the decision to admit Ukraine and Georgia to NATO remained in effect.
He said that the decision had been made in 2008 and required Ukraine and Georgia to meet certain membership criteria, which they had so far not done.
The military reforms in Georgia and the implementation of its first annual national programme of cooperation with NATO was reviewed last November by the NATO-Georgia Commission at the level of ambassadors.
The NATO Council at its ministerial meeting in 2009 admitted that Georgia would not become members of the alliance any time soon.
At their meeting in Brussels in December, the NATO foreign ministers denied membership action plans (MAP) to Georgia. The plan is a key stage in preparations for NATO membership. Instead, the NATO leaders made a political statement, saying that Georgia would be admitted to the alliance with time. The stumbling block is how to interpret “with time”. While Tbilisi, Washington, and all Baltic countries believe it means “several years”, most West European member countries say it's nothing less than a decade.