“Russia has no right to decide on behalf of its neighbors,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at his press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze in Brussels on July 18, stressing that Georgia has “the right to decide its own path, including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be part of.”
The statement came two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent interview with Fox News where he emphasized that moving of NATO’s military infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders poses “direct threat” to its security and that Moscow would regard the process “extremely negatively.”
“The whole idea that a neighbor tells a neighbor what they can do and what they cannot do is totally unacceptable because that is to reestablish the old idea of spheres of influence where big powers were in a position where they could decide what small neighbors could do or not do,” Stoltenberg stated.
The SG stressed that it is the NATO member states and Georgia, as an aspirant country, which can decide “when Georgia is going to become a member” and that Russia “has no say in this process.” “I welcome the fact that all the 29 NATO leaders, when they met here in Brussels just few days ago, reiterated that Georgia will become a member of NATO,” he added.
— Mamuka Bakhtadze (@BakhtadzeMamuka) July 18, 2018
PM Mamuka Bakhtadze, who traveled to Brussels on July 18-20 on his first foreign visit in his new capacity, emphasized in his remarks that Georgia’s NATO membership “is not aimed against” anyone, and that “it is to make the region stronger, more predictable and more secure.”
The Prime Minister also noted that his cabinet would remain “fully committed to achieve NATO membership,” and that the country, “as a future member of NATO,” would continue contributing to common Euro-Atlantic security.
In Brussels, Bakhtadze will also meet with European Council President Donald Tusk and other European officials, including the Belgian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Didier Reynders, the Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, the EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, and Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis.