NATO attaches “great importance to the conduct of free and fair local elections in Georgia in spring 2010” and encourages Georgia “to deepen reforms” related to media freedom and the rule of law, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary general said.
NATO-Georgia Commission on the foreign ministerial level met in Brussels on December 3 to review reform process in Georgia and implementation of Annual National Programme – a document, laying out the country’s reform targets, which is not public.
In a statement released after the meeting NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who chaired the commission session, said that the alliance welcomed “the progress Georgia showed in a number of areas in implementing its Annual National Programme (ANP) goals.”
In his opening remarks at the session Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, said that the first assessment of Annual National Program was positive.
“The ANP is instrumental, absolutely instrumental in reinforcing Georgia's integration, a process that I would like to note that 2009 assessment reflects the substantial progress in implementing Georgia's ANP goals,” he said.
“At the same time, they [ministers] noted that much work remains to be done to implement reforms, and that the Georgian Government, as well as opposition forces, must demonstrate political will in implementing democratic reforms,” the statement reads.
Grigol Vashadze, the Georgian foreign minister, told Georgian reporters after the meeting that “it was a request by NATO to speed up reforms in Georgia”, including in defense, rule of law and judiciary.
In the statement the NATO Secretary General said that the ministers welcomed Georgia’s decision to make “a broad review” of the country’s security sector, “but noted the need for more effective defence planning and financial and human resource management.”
“The successful start” of the professional development program for civilian personnel of MoD and other security institutions, managed by NATO, was also welcomed.
Noting Georgia’s “full compliance” with EU-mediated cease-fire agreement, NATO also urged Russia “to fulfill all of its commitments” under the agreement.
Grigol Vashadze told the Georgian reporters in Brussels on December 3 that the alliance would raise Georgia as a priority issue when NATO foreign ministers meet their Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Brussels on December 4.
“NATO Ministers reaffirmed their strict policy of non-recognition of the “independence” of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia, and called once again on Russia to reverse its decision in this regard,” the statement reads.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in his opening remarks at the meeting that NATO was committed to assisting Georgia with its reforms, “but it is the Georgians who ultimately have to deliver.”
He also noted Georgia’s “substantial” contribution to the Afghanistan operation.
Georgia has already sent a company-size infantry unit to Afghanistan under the French command and in addition it plans to send a battalion next year under the U.S. command.
“It is in a challenging area. And it [deployment] is without restrictions. That is a powerful signal that Georgia is willing to do what it takes to be a security provider,” Rasmussen said.