Joint press point
by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili
Prime Minister, l am pleased to welcome you to NATO Headquarters.
Georgia is a strong and committed NATO partner. You play an outstanding role in our operations. You are implementing important reforms.
And today we see a more mature democracy in your country, after free and fair presidential elections last year.
Georgia is the largest non-NATO contributor to our ISAF operation in Afghanistan. You have pledged financial support and committed to our mission to train, advise, and assist the Afghan forces after 2014. And Georgia has also announced that it will contribute to the NATO-Response Force in 2015. These are significant demonstrations of your commitment.
We are working together with you to reform Georgia’s security forces. To help them achieve NATO standards, so they are better able to meet any threats facing your country. The priority now is to continue implementing reforms across all areas, including the defence sector, the rule of law, and local government.
We have noted the recent decision to temporarily extend the so-called border zone of Abkhazia further into Georgian territory without the Georgian government’s consent. I have to say we are very concerned about that decision. We remain firmly committed to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and we call on Russia to implement all of its obligations with regards to Georgia.
As we have made clear, the building of fences and other obstacles is unacceptable and it is contrary to international law and Russia’s own commitments. It hampers the free movement and livelihood of the population and it should be reversed. The 21st century is for bridge building not fence building.
Prime Minister, we stand by our commitments. At the Bucharest Summit in 2008 we decided that Georgia will become a NATO member, provided you meet the necessary requirements. That decision still stands.
There is still work to be done for integration in the Euro-Atlantic community. But you have moved much closer to NATO. And we will continue to work together with you to help achieve our common goals.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen (NATO Secretary General): (...) And we will continue to work together with you to help achieve our common goals. (Inaudible)
Irakli Garibashvili (Georgian Prime Minister): Thank you. I'd like to thank the Secretary General for inviting me here at the NATO Headquarter. We have just had a very good discussion on NATO-Georgia relations. And in a few minutes, we will be meeting in the framework of the NATO-Georgia Commission.
Georgia has undergone through a profound democratic transformation. The recent parliamentary and presidential elections marked an important milestone in a consolidated democracy in Georgia.
The government of Georgia understands that there is still work to do and continues to show its clear commitment to achieve further progress in reforms aimed at ensuring better protection of human rights; strengthening the rule of law; improve economic development; important steps have been taken to reform the defense system; and increase the interoperability of Georgian armed forces with troops of NATO and partner countries.
Georgia's participation in the NRF will be a major step in this regard. We also discussed our mission in Afghanistan where Georgia is the number one troop contributor and continues to fulfil its commitments till the operation is completed. As a would-be NATO member, willing and able to contribute to the Euro-Atlantic security, we are planning to participate in a post-2014 mission in Afghanistan which is well appreciated by the Alliance. We have talked about those reforms as well as about the ways of advancing Georgia-NATO's integration path.
Georgia continues to firmly pursue its goal of membership to the North Atlantic Alliance with which we share common values. Georgia's Euro-Atlantic quest is backed by the overwhelming majority of Georgian population and enjoys among major … [inaudible] political parties.
And finally, the government of Georgia, spares no efforts to continue the implementation of reforms which will bring Georgia closer to NATO. NGC and MAP have long served as active tools for achieving that goal.
Georgia's reforms are positively assessed by the Alliance. And we hope that based on those achievements we will be able to advance on our NATO integration path as well. Thank you once again! Thank you!
Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson): Please don't forget to introduce yourselves. Maybe over there!
Q: Nadia (inaudible), Mister Secretary General, let me ask you. You mentioned in your speech that Georgia moves closer to NATO. Georgia has carried out many reforms during several years. So what could Georgian nation expect for the next summit... upcoming summit in North Wales? Will this summit be dedicated to enlargement? What could Georgian people expect in this regard?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: We have not yet decided on the detailed agenda for the summit in Wales in September. And as regard to our open-door policy, we have not made final decisions as to how that will be reflected at the summit. We have decided that we will continue assessing the countries that aspire to becoming members of NATO. And then final decisions will be made at a much later stage in the run-up to the summit.
As I said, we have seen substantial progress in Georgia. And I do believe that the progress will be acknowledged and reflected appropriately at the summit.
Oana Lungescu: We only have time for one more question.
Q: Mister General Secretary (inaudible). We all know Russia's position towards NATO's open-door policy, how the North Atlantic Organization can protect Georgia's choice to be part of this organization.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Yes, but I have to say that it's not for third parties to decide on how NATO will conduct and implement our open-door policy. At the summit, we will reiterate that our door remains open to European democracies that can contribute to improving Euro-Atlantic security and further the principles of our organization. So it's for NATO in collaboration with countries that aspire to becoming members of our organization to decide on enlargement. But as I said, no decisions have been made yet. We are still assessing the situation. And decisions on the detailed agenda will be made at a later stage.
Oana Lungescu: Many thanks!