by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission at Foreign Affairs Ministers level, Brussels
Dear colleagues, I welcome you to another important meeting today, the Foreign Ministers' session of the NATO-Georgia Commission. Special words of welcome are directed of course towards the Georgian Foreign Minister Vashadze.
As is the case with Ukraine, our partnership with Georgia reached a different level following the Bucharest summit decision that Georgia will become a member of NATO. That is why in September 2008 we established the NATO-Georgia Commission. It may be new on the scene, but the Commission has already proven its relevance and value by steering a very substantial programme of consultations, debates and practical cooperation .
The Annual National Programme for 2009 is the framework for what we do together. And it focuses, quite rightly, on reform- political, defence and military.
NATO has been lending a helping hand, but it is the Georgians who ultimately have to deliver. It is very encouraging to see that hard work and considerable effort on the part of Georgian authorities is paying off.
Let me also publicly congratulate Georgia on the very important contribution you are going to make to the mission in Afghanistan. It is substantial. It is in a challenging area. And it is without restrictions. That is a powerful signal that Georgia is willing to do what it takes to be a security provider.
Allies, collectively and bilaterally, are committed to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. But we all know that security climate in the region which is home to Georgia remains fragile. This puts a particular responsibility on the shoulders of all relevant parties, Georgia included. We all understand that your country has suffered a lot during the last years. There is much hardship to overcome, many human wounds have to heal. But reforms and modernization, and a determination to improve neighbourly relations, offer the best prospects of a better future for the Georgian people. NATO will continue to support your reforms, and stand by your territorial integrity.