Minister Irakly Alasaniya said his country needs some time “to be completely ready for a full-fledged NATO membership in terms of the country’s political system, security measures and defense level”.
“Georgia is not ready for this [NATO membership] and we speak currently about further steps for the country to be taken toward integration with NATO,” Alasaniya said commenting on a statement delivered earlier in the month by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Speaking in early June, Rasmussen said Georgia’s progress concerning its accession to NATO would be evaluated at the upcoming NATO Summit in Wales this fall.
On June 4 NATO-Georgia commission held a meeting at the level of defense ministers and following the talks Rasmussen said “I am confident that our next summit will recognize Georgia’s progress.”
Georgia’s long aspired NATO membership had been a stumbling block in relations with Russia, which repeatedly hinted that the expansion of the Western military alliance posed a threat to the country’s national security.
Moscow and Tbilisi cut off diplomatic ties after Russia recognized as independent two Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The recognition followed Georgia's attack against South Ossetia that entailed Russia's peace-making operation in August 2008.
Following the election of the new parliament in Georgia in 2012, tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi began to thaw, when then-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili called normalization of relations with Russia as one of the top priorities for the country.
Last December Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia could possibly return to visa-free regimen with Georgia.
Border crossings between Russia and Georgia intensified after Moscow last year lifted bans from Georgian imports of wine, mineral water, brandy and other goods. Last year Georgia also unilaterally cancelled the visa regimen with Russia, prompting Russian tourists to travel to inexpensive Georgian mountain ski resorts and make tourist trips to Tbilisi.