Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, speaking at a news conference in Brussels after NATO-Russia Council on December 8. Photo: NATO
Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, criticized NATO foreign ministers for naming Georgia in their joint communiqué among the “aspirant” countries.
The final statement of NATO foreign ministerial meeting, held in Brussels on December 7, reads: “We applaud the significant operational support provided to NATO by our aspirant partners the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Georgia.”
Speaking at a news conference in Brussels after the NATO-Russia Council on December 8, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he had “openly warned” his counterparts from the Alliance that such statements might serve as an encouragement for President Saakashvili to undertake “an adventure similar to the one of August, 2008.”
“I noticed that yesterday’s communiqué, which was adopted by the NATO foreign ministers, contains a term ‘aspirant countries’ and among them was named Georgia too. I openly warned our colleagues not to again push, wittingly or unwittingly, the current regime in Georgia towards repeating an adventure similar to the one of August, 2008… it was shortly after the [April, 2008 NATO] Bucharest summit, during which [NATO] imperatively stated, that Georgia will join NATO,” Lavrov said.
“I have not the slightest doubt, taking into account Saakashvili’s psyche, that it [NATO Bucharest summit decision] played an important role in insane and reckless decision which Saakashvili took. So I expressed hope that the NATO will take a responsible approach towards encouraging such events that took place in 2008 in the region, which is strategic not only for the South Caucasus states, but for the Russian Federation too – our close allies and neighbors are living there. I hope I’ve been heard [by NATO],” the Russian Foreign Minister added.
Giorgi Baramidze, the Georgian state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration issues, welcomed the wording of the communiqué, saying it was “the first time when Georgia was named in an official NATO document in a status of NATO membership candidate country.”
Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, said in a televised comments from Brussels on December 8, it was natural that the NATO foreign ministers’ statement “triggered Russia’s terrible irritation”, which, he said, was reflected in the remarks of his Russian counterpart.
Speaking on background with reporters in Brussels on December 7, an official from the U.S. Department of State said that NATO foreign ministers, among other issues, also discussed importance of keeping the Alliance’s door open to four countries – Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Georgia, which are seeking to join the NATO.
“We talked about the importance of keeping the door to NATO membership open to these countries and to use the Chicago summit to send a signal of what they would continue to need to do in order to become members,” the U.S. Department of State official said.
The NATO foreign ministers also say in their statement on December 7, that cooperation with Russia remains of “strategic importance”.
“Despite differences on specific issues, including on Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and Russia’s commitments of 2008, we share common security interests and face common challenges,” the statement reads.
The statement also reaffirms NATO’s open door policy and “strong commitment to the Euro-Atlantic integration of our aspirant partners, in accordance with previous decisions taken at the Bucharest, Strasbourg-Kehl and Lisbon Summits.”
“Democratic values, regional cooperation, and good neighbourly relations are important for lasting peace and stability. We welcome progress aspirant countries have made and we encourage them to continue to implement the necessary decisions and reforms to advance their Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” the NATO foreign ministers said.