Speeches & Statements

President Saakashvili and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer hold joint briefing in Sighnaghi

[Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili]

I have invited the NATO secretary-general here to Kakheti because Kakheti is the region which has endured the most damaged from the embargo declared on us by our traditional main trading partner.

The embargo sought to cripple Kakheti and hence, the rest of Georgia; it sought to incite protests in Kakheti and thereby stir up the situation in Georgia as a whole; it sought to worsen the economic situation of Kakhetians and thereby hit Georgia in its most sensitive point, which would have been like a knife in the back.

But you can see how Kakheti has changed since the embargo. Kakheti undoubtedly does still have economic problems due to the fall in the price of grapes. But new factories, schools, hospitals, theatres and roads are being built in Kakheti, towns and district centres are being revived. Kakheti is standing tall and through its example the rest of the world will see that Georgia and its people have great dignity! Georgia and Kakheti will never give in to the caprices of petty people!

We are a peaceful, responsible, democratic and free country which puts its freedom and democratic principles above any hardship or temporary difficulties, any embargo or restrictions. I want to greet our friend and guest.

I want to say that democratic reforms in Georgia, the establishment of European standards and the reform of the armed forces will continue even more effectively and at an even faster pace. This is the promise that we have made, first of all before the Georgian people and secondly before the international community. I would like to once again greet the NATO secretary-general and ask him to say a few words.

[NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer]

Mr President, thank you very much for this lovely reception today. I warmly greet all the Georgian people who have gathered here today and who are either watching us on television or listening to us on the radio.

I am glad to return to Georgia. I want to tell the people of Georgia that I have come here as a friend of Georgia and as the NATO secretary-general. Yesterday we had a sincere exchange of ideas as friends and partners.

Yesterday I met the Georgian president and today I gave a speech at the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University.

I welcome Georgia's desire to integrate with Euro-Atlantic structures. Of course I will emphasize those issues where Georgia must definitely continue to implement reforms: I am speaking about the reforms being implemented in Georgia so that it can achieve the goals it set out.

As far as NATO standards are concerned, it is indisputable that the reform process must include such issues as, first of all, judicial reform and the independence of the judiciary.

NATO's allies are interested in observing the 2008 elections in Georgia. We also stress the reforms under way in the defence sphere.

But that fact that I am standing here today indicates that Georgia is standing firmly on the path to reform and that it is continuing to work in this direction.

Dear Mr President, the Georgian public, I wish to once again loudly proclaim that NATO's number one principle is that its door has been and is open.

Second - the road to NATO is dependent on achievements - all countries must fulfil certain requirements, implement certain reforms and show us that it they have approached our standards and reached a level at which we can start speaking about inclusion in our alliance.

Third - no single country, large or small, has the right to veto a potential new member's accession.

We are 26 allies; it can be said that no country will be given the chance to obstruct this process. NATO's door is open. Membership of the alliance is dependent on a country's achievements. I have come here to assess the situation. I can say that in terms of reforms Georgia has done a lot - and we can see a practical example here today. That which we see here is truly a great achievement.

I can tell you that since our first visit (at the end of 2004) Georgia has achieved many successes. I can see that a lot of money has been invested here and that Georgia has prospered economically; its NATO bid will depend precisely on these achievements.

Therefore, we must be convinced that Georgia can fulfil its own ambitions and, accordingly, attain the goals it has set out for itself.

Honourable Mr President, I want to express my great thanks to you and all those who met me here for your hospitality. I am glad to have once again had the opportunity to visit Georgia.


[Maka Antidze, Reuters News Service]

Respected Mr Secretary-General, yesterday the French defence minister told Reuters that France would oppose Georgia's accession to NATO if it meant that Russia would feel threatened or surrounded. You noted that no single country has the right to veto Georgia's integration with NATO. I wonder just how important the Russia factor is for Georgia's integration with NATO. And one more question in regard to reports that at the end of this year Georgia could join the NATO common radar system. Do you believe that this will happen or not?

[Scheffer] Please let met answer your first question. I cannot not mention that Georgia certainly has shown that it aspires to join NATO. These problems will certainly be resolved. There is no alternative to this. All problems must be resolved through peaceful means and the use of military force is out of the question. I have already said that no single country has the right to veto the process of NATO expansion. I expect that this will not happen in relation to Georgia. Georgia has to choose its own foreign policy course. Georgia is a sovereign state and NATO respects its territorial integrity. Georgia must decide for itself what it wants. Therefore, all 26 member states will take all decisions regarding stages. This process, as we have been saying, is already under way and I, as the secretary-general, can tell you that the final decision will be taken by the 26 member countries. This decision will be based on the successes that your country achieves. However, I must say of course that there already is a chance to share radar information. The talk here is not about something new or special. Everything is open to all states, including Georgia.

[Mikheil Saakashvili]

I just want to add in regard to the first question that a few days ago I had an informal, but very warm meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Marseilles. Before that I was one of the first heads of state to visit France after Sarkozy's inauguration. I want to confirm - and Sarkozy will probably confirm this as well - that France's position concerning Georgia on all issues, including this one, is quite concrete: France supports Georgia. This has been expressed absolutely unequivocally. This is the information that I have personally and I am saying this based on the meetings I have held with France's leaders.


[Lela Tsiklauri, Georgian Mze TV]

I have a question for Mr Scheffer. I would like you to assess the incident which occurred just a few days ago on Georgian-controlled territory in Upper Abkhazia. Workers laying a road connecting Georgia proper to the Kodori Gorge were attacked by a gang of armed Abkhaz who were commanded by a Russian peacekeeping officer. This was confirmed by the Interior Ministry when it detained the guilty parties in a special operation. How do you evaluate this incident and do you believe that Russian peacekeepers should oversee the conflict zones.


I do not intend to assess that incident. As you know, the UN and OSCE are working on the Abkhazia and South Ossetia conflicts. We do not intend to play a role in those very serious problems. These are very serious problems indeed. I know about the incident, but I do no intend to comment on it. The only thing I can say is that Georgia must present itself on the international stage with a proud voice. Everyone should understand well that the resolution of these conflicts through military means is inadmissible. NATO does not want to emerge on the front line in the resolution of this problem.


According to Russia's official statements, the head of this special purpose unit was an instructor at the antiterrorism centre. Russia has enough problems with terrorists in its own country that it should not seek to fight this disease in Georgia's forests without asking us. I am not happy when anyone dies and I am troubled that this young Russian lieutenant colonel was killed in the clash with the Georgian police unit. I think that we must do everything we can to avert such incidents in the future and ensure that such incidents are never again repeated in Georgia.

[Matthew Collin, BBC]

Mr Secretary-General, can a country with two separatist regions and two unresolved conflicts become a member of NATO?


First of all, let me repeat what I have said before: these conflicts must be resolved peacefully. It is just as necessary that a process of political negotiations takes place. As for Georgia's NATO bid, NATO's member countries at some point should take a political decision on that issue. This will definitely happen, but I do not know when. All 26 countries will sit at the table and all 26 countries will take a decision. I must say that no-one will be able to influence that decision.

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

Send link to the email
Captcha* Verification Code
2013 (7)
2012 (12)
2011 (12)
2010 (9)
2009 (11)
2008 (12)
2007 (11)
2006 (9)
2005 (11)
2004 (3)