NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai (left) and Georgia’s incoming PM Bidzina Ivanishvili (right), Tbilisi, October 18. Photo: Ivanishvili’s press office.
With the democratic transfer of power based on parliamentary election results, Georgia has passed its test and now it’s up to NATO to take “practical steps” for Georgia’s accession to the Alliance, incoming PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said after meeting in his residence in Tbilisi with NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai.
“We have passed a very interesting test – elections; that served for NATO to determine our prospects [for NATO membership]; we have done it. I reminded [Appathurai] that we’ve done that and now they [NATO] on their part should take more principled and practical steps for Georgia to really become NATO member in the near future,” Ivanishvili said.
“I have assured [the NATO Secretary General’s special representative] that on our part, we will do everything possible in order to establish in Georgia genuinely democratic institutions that is necessary for NATO [membership].”
“We are proud that together with NATO member states we are participating in the Afghan operation,” Ivanishvili said.
“In parallel to that we will do everything possible in order to mend relations with our huge neighbor, Russia, and to restore our territorial integrity,” he added.
James Appathurai said after the meeting that he had “an excellent discussion” with the incoming PM.
“He has reiterated Georgia’s commitment to NATO, to membership in NATO and to participation in the mission in Afghanistan,” he said.
“I, from my part of course, has welcomed all of these, but also want to recommit NATO to Georgia, the future of Georgia in NATO, our gratitude for the contribution in Afghanistan and I express my condolences and NATO’s condolences for the soldier, who lost his life, the eighteenth Georgian soldier; and also to Georgia’s territorial integrity. Georgia is a close partner to the alliance and aspirant to NATO membership and we will remain absolutely committed to this country,” Appathurai added.
Speaking with journalists before his meeting with Ivanishvili, the NATO Secretary General’s special representative said that NATO-Russia and Georgian-Russian relations were “very complicated” issues.
“But bottom line for us… [is] that good relationship between NATO and Georgia and good relationship between NATO and Russia is not a zero-sum game... Better NATO-Russia relations are good for Georgia and so we think we can do both at the same time, we should do both at the same time and I know that outgoing government has always worked towards better relations with Russia… I know that incoming administration has stressed their focus on improving relations with Russia, including in the context of NATO accession,”
“So frankly, I think, we’re all on the same page. But the bottom line for NATO is only NATO countries decide on accession,” Appathurai said, adding that NATO had reiterated for multiple times, including on the highest level, that Bucharest summit decision, that Georgia will join the Alliance, stands.