Stoltenberg: Georgia moving closer to NATO membership

Jens Stoltenberg [Arbeiderpartiet / Flickr]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday (7 September) said ex-Soviet Georgia has moved closer to membership, in a show of support for the tiny Caucasus nation despite fierce opposition from Russia.

“You are continuing to strengthen your democracy and civic institutions and this has helped Georgia to move closer to NATO,” Stoltenberg told a news conference after talks with Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili in Tbilisi.

“You are not walking alone on your reform path. Georgia has all the necessary tools to move towards NATO membership,” he added.

“We will continue to count on Georgia and we will continue to support you.”

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During his two-day visit Stoltenberg will chair meetings of the North Atlantic Council – the alliance’s main decision-making body – and the NATO-Georgia Commission.The latter body supervises the process set in motion at NATO’s 2008 summit

The latter body supervises the process set in motion at NATO’s 2008 summit in Bucharest, where the Allies agreed that Georgia will become a NATO member.

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US Secretary of State John Kerry began a two-day visit to Georgia and Ukraine today (6 July) to reassure NATO’s eastern friends they will not be abandoned to face Russia alone.

NATO has insisted that the Bucharest decision on Georgia’s eventual membership still stands, but – wary of alienating an increasingly assertive Russia – has so far refused to put the country on a formal membership path.

Georgia and Russia have long been at loggerheads over Tbilisi’s bid to join NATO and the European Union and the spiralling confrontation culminated in a brief war in 2008 over Georgia’s breakaway provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

After the war that saw Russian troops rout Georgia’s small military, Moscow recognised the separatist enclaves as independent states and stationed thousands of troops there.

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