NATO urges Georgia`s political forces for smooth cohabitation
The issue of Georgia`s sovereignty and territorial integrity still remains among the differences between U.S. and Russia, - U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said after the meting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels today.
The secretary of state also said Georgia`s progress on its way to integration into NATO should continue through strengthening democratic institutions, reforming armed institutions and contributing to protection of joint security.
Speaking at a news conference following a meeting of NATO-Georgia Commission on the foreign ministerial level on December 5, Rasmussen said that the Alliance recognized Georgia’s strong reform record.
"Georgia’s commitment to NATO is solid. And NATO’s commitment to Georgia remains just as solid. Today, NATO ministers reconfirmed the decision taken at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 that Georgia will become a member of the Alliance. And to this end, NATO will continue to support and assist Georgia’s reform efforts through the NATO-Georgia Commission. We reconfirmed NATO’s unwavering support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally-recognised borders. And we welcomed and encouraged Georgia’s efforts towards peaceful conflict resolution, to enhance security in its region and to reach out to the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia. The challenge now is to maintain momentum. To ensure that Georgia stays on the path of democratic reforms. We recognise Georgia’s strong reform record. But we also recognise that there is still more work to be done. Especially with respect to reforming the judiciary and strengthening the rule of law and media freedom and transparency. NATO is determined to support that process. Our dialogue and cooperation will continue. And we will develop them further within the NATO-Georgia Commission", he said.
Asked during a press conference whether he had observed positive developments in this regard in Georgia since his November 12 remarks, Rasmussen responded that the issue of “recent arrests of representatives of the former administration” was discussed at the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting.
“We have stressed that NATO has no intention whatsoever to interfere with these legal processes. But we have added to that, that it is of utmost importance that the authorities in Georgia respect fully the fundamental principles of the rule of law and people, who are arrested, also are guaranteed a due process,” Rasmussen said.
“We have stressed that it’s of utmost importance that these legal cases are not perceived as political persecution. Even the perception is here very important. So, in conclusion, we have expressed our appreciation of the reforms that have been carried through in Georgia; we also stressed that there is still work to do,” the NATO Secretary General added.
Asked whether he thought that cohabitation would work in Georgia, the NATO Secretary General responded that “it is not easy”, but noted that NATO foreign ministers welcomed an agreement between the government and the President on appointment of new Chief of Joint Staff of the Armed Forces.
He said it was “a very important signal” and “at least promising”.
“It is a clear indication that parties involved try to move forward to ensure smooth cohabitation,” Rasmussen said.
“Let me stress that in today’s meeting we have recognized… the very successful conduct of parliamentary elections on the 1st of October. Georgia has, in that respect, passed a very important test,” he said.
“We now look forward to seeing a smooth cohabitation between the new government and the President and we look forward to free, fair and transparent presidential elections next year,” Rasmussen said.