19 Aug 2008

NATO's foreign ministers reiterate
their support for Georgia

The North Atlantic Council (NAC) met in a special foreign ministerial session on 19 August 2008 to discuss the situation in Georgia and its implications for Euro-Atlantic stability and security.

Both the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on behalf of the EU Presidency briefed the NAC on the diplomatic efforts undertaken so far.

The NAC welcomed the agreement signed by Georgia and Russia to end the hostilities and bring about a political solution to the conflict, but stressed the urgency of swift and complete implementation of the agreement.

The Allies re-affirmed their support for Georgia’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence, and agreed on a package of measures to assist the civilian population affected by the conflict.

NATO – Georgia Commission

NATO foreign ministers decided to develop, together with Georgia, a NATO-Georgia Commission, a consultation mechanism similar to the NATO-Ukraine Commission. This new political body will follow up the decisions taken at the Bucharest Summit, and oversee the NATO-Georgia relationship.

A number of support measures were agreed upon at the meeting, including sending a team of 15 civil emergency planning experts to help Georgia assess damage to its civil infrastructure. The Alliance will establish contacts with Georgia to assess the state of the Georgian Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces.

At the same time, Allies plan to support the re-establishment of the air traffic system and assist the Georgian government in understanding the nature of cyber attacks.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced at a press conference that he would send his Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Mr. Robert Simmons, “to consult with the Georgian Government and keep Allies informed”.

“No business as usual”

The Council strongly urged Russia to “take immediate action to withdraw its troops from the area”.

As NATO Secretary General underlined during his press conference, “the NATO-Russia Council meetings would be placed on hold until Russia adhered to the ceasefire and the future of our relations will depend on the concrete actions Russia will take to abide by the … peace plan”. “We are not closing doors”, he said again, but “we…cannot continue with business as usual… as long as Russia does not commit to the principles upon which we agreed to base our relationship”.