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NATO membership is top priority for Georgian Gov’t, Foreign Minister says

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, October 9
“Membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ( NATO) remains a major topic in Georgian political agenda,” Georgia’s Foreign Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated after his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Alliance headquarters in Belgium, Brussels on September 7.

“I met with the General Secretary, along with Georgia’s Minister of Defence Tinatin Khidasheli. It was a signal and a demonstration that NATO membership is a top priority for us,” Kvirikashvili said.

The Minister announced that the sides discussed a wide range of topics, starting with the upcoming NATO Warsaw summit next year to Georgia’s efforts in maintaining international peace and security.

In this context Kvirikashvili emphasised that Georgian and NATO officials discussed the specific steps Georgia could take in order to gain the unanimity over Georgian issues among all 28 NATO member states.

“The NATO chairperson promised us help in consolidation of common sense in the Alliance so that Georgia’s efforts and sacrifices in NATO-led missions be appropriately appreciated.”

“What type of appreciation it might be, whether the Membership Action Plan (MAP) or something else, time will show.”

“Of course MAP is the logical continuation of the process. However, our main aim is full NATO membership,” Kvirikashvili said.

Jens Stoltenberg thanked Georgia for its commitment to international peacekeeping missions and praised Georgian soldiers for their professionalism, as well as Georgia’s successful reforms made in order to attain membership in the alliance.

He also reiterated NATO’s strong support in terms of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Georgia’s Foreign Ministry announced.

Prior to Kvirikahsvili's meeting, Khidasheli met with Stoltenberg face-to-face.

“Strategically and tactically, the task of this meeting, the next summit and the previous summits is to move closer to our goal. The most important thing personally for me is to achieve the stage when there will not be any intermediate steps between our country and NATO membership. Therefore, this is what I mean when I say that MAP is not our ultimate goal," Khidasheli said.

The Defence Minister said that if Georgia receives MAP, the intermediate stage will disappear and the country can start working directly on membership.

"I'd prefer this to happen at the Warsaw Summit without MAP. Yes, I agree with the NATO Secretary General that Georgia has all the tools - about twice or three times more than the tools of other countries that have MAP today,” Khidasheli said.

Khidasheli is taking part in the NATO Defence Ministerial in Brussels.