Anders Fogh Rasmussen: “you yourself, your successor, and the Prime Minister will all be remembered as builders of Georgian democracy”

Mikheil Saakashvili:

First of all I would like to welcome all of you. We just had a very interesting, serious and productive meeting with the Secretary General. Again, we would like to welcome NAC here in Georgia. For countries like Georgia you know it is a historic event, that’s how our people perceive it. It is really the event that attracts attention of our nation, not only today but for these weeks precluding event, and I think it will stay after you leave, and that’s why the importance of your visit cannot be overestimated. The North Atlantic Council has become a very crucial moment of our history in the recent years. I especially recall the visit of NAC immediately in the aftermath of the Russian invasion in 2008. It was such a great sign of support, solidarity, standing by the freedom, independence and territorial integrity of our people, and it has made a huge difference at those times of huge peril. Each NAC visit sends a very strong message both to the Georgian people and to the countries around. It sends a message that NATO stands by our nation, that our people are not alone, that all logic of spheres of influence and some countries staying in from the cold and some being out in the cold no longer applies to the modern 21the century world. And that our integration in NATO is irreversible as proclaimed in Bucharest in 2008 and it’s going on. I want to thank especially Secretary General Rasmussen for his permanent support of Georgia’s sovereign territorial integrity and aspirations of people. Your repeated statements on all these issues Mr. Secretly General, had and are still having a great impact, and I want to thank you personally for this. NATO integration is a clear, well expressed wish of the Georgian people. It goes beyond political parties, political interests… beyond ethnical or religious groups. This not owned by any leader. It is the absolute foreign policy priority for Georgia. It is the result as well as the one main driving force of our reforms at home; of edification and protection of our democracy. As you know, governments change but NATO remains a priority because the people want it, and no government can do anything against this well expressed desire of the people. NATO remains priority and our participation in ISAF remains a high priority. I think it has significant value not only to the overall international security, but it’s also our contribution to our future. To Georgia’s role in wider international coalitions, that has historically been built for many ages but also specifically to the future of Georgia, and also to forming our armed forces. Our soldiers are making ultimate sacrifices as we have seen in recent weeks, and I want to speak on the behalf of the nation and tell you how proud we are of their bravery, and to tell how deep our sorrow is for the loss of the lives as well as the loss of the lives of other participants of operation from your respective countries.

Mr. Secretary General, Ambassadors, NATO membership is the goal of the whole Georgian nation. It will take time we know it, but we will be a full member of this alliance of free democratic nations. For this goal to become a reality we have to develop and protect our democracy. Protecting our democracy means also protecting the right of political opposition and all minorities. Recent events in Georgia have put this right at risks to say the least. As I’m speaking, the Secretary General of the main opposition party UNM, Ivane Merabishvili is sitting in jail even before he is judged on any specific crime. This is a very abnormal situation in democracy as well as the events of this morning and many others are abnormal. I hope the government will not pursue this path because it will endanger our democracy, our goals. It will endanger our security and our transatlantic future, and that’s the last thing we would want. That’s the last thing I would want because I personally contribute a lot to strengthening these aspirations and also for NATO to take Georgia seriously, not just Georgians taking NATO much more seriously and both things that have happened. There are many things that remain to be done in our country, and I seriously doubt that the priority should be a charge and arrest of political leaders. Priority should be strengthening of our institutions, our economy, our security and I am sure we can count on you for this, because you are the main alliance of our nation. The family we aspire to join. The family I will and I am convinced this has been, and will always be the main driving force of my political life. The family we will one day join definitely. That’s why we should stand above political lines or divisions in this country. We should jointly work on this aspiration. We should find a common language with each other. We should try to create a situation when things are discovered and decide through democratic process and civilized means of dialogue, rather than any other unacceptable methods. I hope I still count that my nation has enough political recourse force to basically create and maintain such a climate between different political forces. Thank you once again for also helping and contributing to this path. Thank you!


Anders Fogh Rasmussen:

Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Earlier today and yesterday, we had the pleasure to meet with Georgian leaders from all walks of life.  Government and parliamentary leaders. Civil society leaders. Representatives of non-governmental organisations, the media, and minority communities.

They showed us that Georgia shares the democratic values of the Euro-Atlantic community of nations.  And that Georgia is committed to the path to NATO membership.

So it is only fitting that our final meeting on this visit to Georgia is with you, Mr. President, a leader who has been an ardent supporter of Georgia's advance towards Euro-Atlantic integration.

Mr President, I know that you are a great admirer of the medieval Georgian king, David the Builder.  In October, Georgia will hold presidential elections.  After those elections, you will hand over power. And when you do, you yourself, your successor, and the Prime Minister will all be remembered as builders of Georgian democracy.

Until that moment, it is crucial that Georgia’s leaders make co-habitation work for the benefit of the Georgian people. I look to you, Mr. President, to further contribute to that process, to help pushing ahead with reforms, further strengthening justice and rule of law and ensuring an inclusive social and political life.

After this meeting, Commission members will attend a ceremony for Georgian military personnel who are deploying to Afghanistan. And that event, too, will be fitting.

Georgia has borne a heavy burden in Afghanistan.  And it has paid a heavy price. We express our most profound sympathies, Mr President, to the families of Georgian servicemen who have been killed or injured, especially in the tragic incidents of recent weeks.

Georgia’s commitment to peaceful conflict resolution also speaks for its role as a security provider. We welcome Georgia’s unilateral steps towards Russia and hope such steps will be reciprocated. NATO remains committed to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders and our non-recognition policy remains unchanged.

Georgia's contributions to our shared security are a powerful demonstration of our shared values. It is one more reason why Georgia belongs in the Euro-Atlantic community. 

Thank you and I would now like to thank the press for joining us. 

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