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Saakashvili: Chicago NATO Summit Progress for Georgia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 May.'12 / 04:06

Putting Georgia in the context of three Balkan NATO aspirant countries is one of the major positive elements that Tbilisi is getting from NATO Chicago summit, President Saakashvili said on May 20.

As part of the Chicago summit foreign ministerial meeting between NATO and four aspirant states - Georgia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, will be held on May 21.

"What we are getting now [is] Georgia listed together with three Balkan countries and frankly everybody knows that they will join NATO. So from that point of view it is a progress and it demonstrates movement forward," Saakashvili said while addressing Young Atlanticist meeting in Chicago on May 20.

He said that Georgia would not have been happy if the Chicago summit only reiterated open door policy and only reaffirmed the 2008 Bucharest summit decision, that Georgia will one day join the alliance.

"Nobody could be happy with that, because life is advancing, we are advancing; we've done all these reforms; we've done our homework and we did not like to look like the best student in the class that still could not make it to the next year... It did not happen. When will we graduate? We don't know yet," Saakashvili said. 

He said that apart of making Georgia aspirant country, the Chicago summit decisions would also include number of other important elements, including acknowledging Georgia's progress and reforms.

He said that the draft of the summit's final communique also included call for Russia to reciprocate Georgia's non-use of force declaration.

Saakashvili said putting Georgia into the "basket of Balkan countries" was also kind of "geographical coup" amounting to putting Georgia into the west thanks to those reforms, which Georgia had implemented.   

He also said, that anti-NATO protesters in the streets of Chicago were "relics of the past" and added that the NATO was as relevant now as never before.

"I think future belongs to that kind of cooperation," Saakashvili said.

Questions to Saakashvili from the audience ranged from issues of women's rights to Russia and leader of opposition coalition Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili.

On Russia and breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Saakashvili said that the best way to achieve de-occupation of these two regions was "to change" Russia itself.

"I think that Russia will inevitably change and once they change, I think, they will automatically get out from occupied areas," Saakashvili said.

When asked what he would advise young leaders, Saakashvili said: "When people start saying 'now I am wiser', it's the people's way to conceal that they are just less efficient... Wise really means that you are not taking risks and one thing I encourage all of you to do is to take risk all the time; that's the only way you can succeed."

On women's rights, he said: "That's the biggest challenge for us."

He said that his ruling National Movement party would encourage to put many women in its list of MP candidates for upcoming elections.

"I strongly believe, that women are better than men. That is my official statement," Saakashvili said causing the audience to laugh. Seconds later Saakashvili added: "I know this is a very offensive statement for feminists, but that's how it is, sorry."

Saakashvili's address to the Young Atlanticist Summit was live tweeted by some in the audience, generating over two hundred of tweets and re-tweets. Storify round up of some of those reactions on Twitter available on this page

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