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Russia and NATO disagree on Georgia, Rasmussen says

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, December 18
A year after the August war Russia and NATO still disagree over Georgia, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Wednesday while visiting Moscow. He was speaking live on Echo Moskvy radio.

Georgia was one of the main issues on the agenda during discussions with President Medvedev and other Russian officials, Rasmussen told journalists. “We insist on full respect for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and urge Russia to withdraw from Georgia,” the NATO Secretary General said, adding that Russia has not fully complied with its commitments under the September 12, 2008 agreement. “NATO calls on Russia to fulfill them,” Rasmussen said.

Although Russia and NATO disagree on Georgia there are certain areas, in which the Alliance’s and Moscow’s interests coincide, according to the NATO Secretary General. “We agreed that we disagree on Georgia. We also agreed that disagreements in some areas should not paralyse us, they should not overshadow the fact that we have shared interests in other areas,” Rasmussen said.

Georgia is not planning a revenge attack on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Rasmussen said, answering a Russian journalist’s question about the alleged rearmament of Georgia. “I don’t think that the huge Russian Federation should feel threatened by small Georgia and I would urge Russia to ensure peaceful cooperation with all its neighbours,” the NATO Secretary General said.

Georgian Parliament Members assessed Rasmussen’s statements as “important.” NATO's democratic and liberal member states are trying put Russia on the right way, ruling National Movement MP and head of the Parliamentary Committee for European Integration Davit Darchiashvili said. “Nobody has any illusions that this can happen in a short period of time. However efforts should be made in this direction. Things can change for the better over time, and time works against Russia,” Darchiashvili told The Messenger.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen arrived in Moscow on December 16. He discussed Russia's participation in international efforts to stabilise Afghanistan with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to the NATO website.

Later on Wednesday the NATO Secretary General met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at The Kremlin. The sides discussed the new phase in NATO-Russian relations in a “friendly and open atmosphere,” the Alliance website says. “The Secretary General confirmed to the President that the relaunch of the NATO-Russian partnership remains one of his priorities while at the helm of NATO,” the NATO press release reads.

The last meeting Rasmussen had in Moscow was with Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Both leaders stressed personal responsibility for developing the partnership between the Alliance and Russia, “as befitting two of the founding fathers of the NATO-Russia Council set up in 2002,” the NATO website reports.