Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the first time that NATO’s North Atlantic Council has met in Batumi. And on behalf of the Council, I would like to thank you, Mister President, for the warm and gracious hospitality that has been shown to us during our visit.
Over the past two days, we have had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Georgian Government, as well as with representatives of Georgia’s parliament and civil society. And we have seen a very strong, and widely shared, commitment to work for Georgia’s future. A future of a democratic and prosperous country fully integrated in the Euro-Atlantic family.
We have also been able to see for ourselves the progress that has been made on that path to membership. And we have clearly laid out where further work is still required. In areas such as electoral reform; strengthening the rule of law; deepening reforms regarding the judiciary and the media; and greater involvement of civil society.
NATO Heads of State and Government agreed at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Georgia will be a member of NATO. I was among the NATO leaders who took that decision three years ago. And I can reassure you that decision stands firm.
What also stands firm is NATO’s strong support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders. We do not, and will not, recognise the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states.
A constructive dialogue is the only way forward to resolve this issue. And we welcome your pledge, Mr. President, not to use force.
Our visit to Georgia is a clear demonstration of our commitment to Georgia. And of your country’s importance to NATO. We will continue to support you on your path to joining the Alliance.
You have already achieved a great deal. And we now look forward to you completing the necessary reforms. Because every day of progress will bring Georgia closer to NATO.