President Saakashvili meets NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili met NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on 27 February. The two held a joint news conference afterwards at which Secretary-General Scheffer said that Georgia was successfully implementing the reforms stipulated in the Intensified Dialogue programme for accession to the alliance and expressed his hope that Georgia would ultimately manage to fully comply with NATO standards. 
"We recognize Georgia's territorial integrity and support the settlement of the territorial conflicts [in Abkhazia and South Ossetia] through exclusively peaceful means... I cannot name a concrete date for Georgia's possible accession to NATO. I will refrain from commenting on that at present. 

"NATO is now holding talks on accession with Georgia in the Intensified Dialogue format...A team of evaluators has recently returned from Tbilisi on a positive note, though there were some concerns, which President Saakashvili and I have spoken about. Georgia's contribution to peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan has been very important for NATO...

"Regional security issues are also very important. Georgia's neighbours, including Russia, are also important partners of the alliance... Georgia's path to NATO is long and winding, but I hope that the Georgian people will successfully achieve their goal," Scheffer said, adding that the Georgian people themselves would determine if the country was to fully implement the reforms envisaged in the Intensive Dialogue programme. 

"We are very glad that NATO has expressed such an attitude towards Georgia, but we cannot stop there. We want to develop our relations with the alliance and achieve the goals that we have set out. Close relations with NATO will facilitate Georgia's future development. Georgia, as contributor to efforts to ensure global security, has set an example for other countries in the region to follow. We will not stray from the path we have chosen and will maintain our national identity," President Saakashvili said.

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

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