by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting in Tbilisi
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all let me thank the Georgian Government most sincerely for hosting the Council and this meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission.
The Georgian people are well known for their warm hospitality. You have already made us feel very welcome in the few hours that we have been here.
Our NATO-Georgia Commission was inaugurated when the NATO Council last visited Tbilisi in 2008. Our partnership is solid, our soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder in Afghanistan. The Alliance is very grateful to the impressive contribution that Georgia brings to our common effort in Afghanistan and we honour the sacrifices and losses which your forces have suffered. They are not in vain.
Our first meeting this afternoon will focus on the broad domestic reforms which Georgia has made. In democratic development. In freedom of expression. In fighting corruption. And in promoting economic growth. We will review the progress made and the challenges which are ahead.
We will also discuss the crucial area of defence reform. The need for Georgia to ensure that its military is properly sized, structured and funded. And relevant to the security challenges of today and tomorrow, rather than those of the past. And NATO will continue to help Georgia with that reform.
At our Alliance Summit in Bucharest three years ago, we agreed that Georgia will become a member of NATO. That decision by our Alliance remains firm.
Since our Bucharest Summit, Georgia has come a lot closer to NATO. But there is still work to be done, in a number of areas. Further reform will be Georgia’s ticket to membership. And NATO is here to help.