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NATO week opened in Tbilisi

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 27
NATO week has opened in Georgia. The Holiday Inn hotel in Tbilisi is hosting the conference dedicated to Georgian-NATO relations.

“Georgia is a devoted and firm candidate for becoming a NATO member,” NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative James Appathurai declared at the Defence and Security conference.

According to him, lately NATO has reflected more and more in Georgia.

“Georgia’s chances in NATO are clear and increasing. Its involvement is higher than other non-member countries. But let us remember the tragic fact that missions such as those conducted in Afghanistan suffer casualties,” James Appathurai said.

“Russia does everything to weaken its neighbours’ sovereignty. Of the Eastern Partnership countries, five of them have territorial integrity problems. We also see instability in the Baltic countries and threats have increased in the Black Sea region. We should also remember instability in the Crimea, Syria and Iraq,” Appathurai said.

Speaking at the conference, Georgia’s Prime Minister underscored the importance of Georgian-NATO relations and spoke about the ongoing Russian aggression in the region.

The PM stressed that regulating relations with Russia will never take place at the expense of Georgia’s territorial integrity.

“I condemn the creeping annexation and tarnishing of international law by Russia. I can also assure you that we will not stop struggling for Georgia’s territorial integrity,” Garibashvili said.

According to the Georgian PM, the pain caused by the conflict is real and it has left deep wounds as a result.

“Up to 10 000 IDPs have been provided with apartments since 2012,” Garbashvili added.

“In the light of the ongoing occupation, my government unanimously says it is necessary to establish pragmatic and responsible relations with Russian Federation. To this end, we have made particular steps in order to promote trade, transport communication, contacts and tourism with Russia. This dialogue has no alternative, we know. But at the same time I would like to clearly state relations with Russia cannot be regulated at the expense of our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the PM declared

In her speech, Georgia’s Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli stressed that unlike some other NATO aspirant countries, Georgia is facing daily threats from Russia.

The Minister also said that participating in international missions was important for Georgia, and for garnering the international community’s respect. However, she emphasized that the Georgian population was waiting for something different and genuine to come from the upcoming NATO Warsaw Summit.

“In the frames of the upcoming parliamentary elections, our people will definitely ask us what we will get from the summit,” Khidasheli said.