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Georgian officials attend summit in Brussels

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, March 18
In a speech about the NATO enlargement prospects at the panel ‘Future of Euro-Atlantic Integration’, Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Alexander Vershbow outlined that the decision made at the Bucharest Summit that Georgia would become a NATO member remains in force. The Georgian Ministry of Defense (MOD) cited Vershbow as saying that Georgia has received a very clear message in Bucharest that it will become a member of the alliance one day.

The panel was the part of the three-day Brussels Forum, an annual high-level meeting of the most influential North American and European political, corporate and intellectual leaders that addresses pressing challenges currently facing both sides of the Atlantic.

Vershbow highlighted the reforms made in Georgia after the October elections and spoke about the challenges of cohabitation between the current Georgian government and the opposition. “Georgia [has] now become the largest non-NATO troop contributor to our operations in Afghanistan and has suffered a lot of casualties as part of that very important contribution. The country is taking a responsible stance in recent years toward regional stability with the non-use of force,” Vershbow said. He also underlined that the alliance encourages and welcomes steps towards normalization of relations with Russia.

Georgian Minister of Defense Irakli Alasania also attended the Brussels Forum. Welcoming interest towards Georgia, Alasania said the forum gave him an opportunity to inform Georgia’s partners about the ongoing developments in Georgia, namely the reforms underway in the justice system and media, the transformation of the Georgian army following the great achievement of Georgian society made on 1 October to avoid disinformation about Georgia and premature conclusions over the country.

Reaffirming the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations and its contribution to global security, Alasania said the new Georgian government under Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s leadership has also referred to our participation in the Afghan mission.

Alasania said it is important that Georgia’s European friends, strategic partners from the European Union and NATO, are informed about the current reforms in Georgia. He said they should be aware of steps undertaken by Georgia in terms of cooperation with military the alliance and reaching of an Association Agreement with European Union.

“Europe regards our country as its part and European leaders consider that Georgia has a very clear and well-marked policy how to become a full-fledged member of European Union and NATO. We reiterated that along with NATO operations, Georgia is ready to cooperate closely with the EU and make its contribution to European security. We agreed that Georgia has a pragmatic policy with Russia in terms of conflict resolution. This pragmatic policy will move Georgia close to Europe and assist in its integration process within the Euro-Atlantic space,” Alasania said.

The forum, held under the auspices of the Marshall Fund of the US, ended on Sunday.