TBILISI, April 07. /ITAR-TASS/. Integration into the European Union and NATO is on the list of Georgia’s main priorities, State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Aleksi Petriashvili said on Monday.
Addressing an international conference within NATO Week in Tbilisi, which opened on Monday, he said taht “the course towards integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, a bid to become a member of the EU and NATO is not exclusive of some political force of Georgia, this is the will of the overwhelming majority of the country’s population and its social and political forces”.
The conference, looking into the experience of countries from Central and Eastern Europe joining NATO, is attended by NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Lithuanian and Estonian government officials, Georgia’s foreign and defense ministers, ambassadors of NATO member countries accredited in Tbilisi as well as the former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, Solomon Pasi.
Late in the 1990s, under President Eduard Shevardnadze, Georgian leadership stated its bid to join NATO. This course was continued under President Mikhail Saakashvili. The new government coming to power after the victory of the Georgian Dream coalition at the parliamentary election of October 1, 2012, said that “Georgia will continue its course towards integration into NATO, but at the same time it sees as its major task normalization of relations with Russia on the basis of state interests and territorial integrity of Georgia.”
Meanwhile, some local politicians and opposition parties speak out against Georgia’s NATO membership and seek “the policy of non-alignment with any military blocs”. They say that “giving up the policy towards membership in the alliance will make it possible to fully normalize relations with Russia and launch the process of Georgia’s peaceful unification.”
Another part of opposition parties and the government are in favor of NATO membership, saying “the process of integration into the Alliance can be combined with the process of normalization of relations with Russia."