NATO has praised once again Georgia’s “remarkable progress”, but also said that “there is more work to be done” to open door to membership for this country.
A meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission at the level of defense ministers was held in Brussels on June 4.
Speaking at a news conference in Brussels NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Georgia has made a “remarkable progress in recent years, and under successive governments.”
“Its track record on democratic and defence reforms has been impressive,” he said.
“More remains to be done to open the door to NATO membership, but Georgia has made real progress and Georgia is on the right track,” Rasmussen said.
“NATO allies welcome that progress, and I am confident that Georgia will stay on the path of reform as we strengthen and deepen our partnership,” he added.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after meeting with Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili in Berlin on June 2 that she does not think Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Georgia will be on the agenda of the NATO summit in Wales in September. She also said that there are options other than MAP through which Georgia’s progress can be acknowledged in summit decisions.
Asked by a German journalist when Georgia can become a NATO member and does not he expect Germany’s opposition to Georgia’s full membership, NATO Secretary General Rasmussen said that he can’t answer this question.
“We have not discussed any timetable in today’s meeting – that was not a purpose of the meeting,” Rasmussen said.
“We have noted a significant progress in Georgia when it comes to defense reforms and to broader reforms of the Georgian society and that progress has been acknowledged at today’s meeting, but we also realize that there is more work to be done,” he said.
He also said that it remains yet to be seen how open door policy will be addressed at the Wales summit.
“I am sure that the progress Georgia has achieved will be reflected properly at the summit,” Rasmussen said.
Asked what might be an alternative to MAP for Georgia, Rasmussen repeated that NATO is still in the process of preparing the summit in Wales and no decision has yet been made on how the open door policy will be addressed at the summit.
“It is a very important issue and we will have to handle it carefully,” the NATO Secretary General added.
He said that each of the aspirant country – Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia – will be treated “individually, based on their merits.”
He also said that NATO is right now in the process of evaluating progress made by the aspirant countries and foreign ministers from the member states will take decisions based on this evaluation when they meet in late June.