Incoming Prime Minister of Georgia and the leader of the coalition Georgian Dream that won in the parliamentary elections Bidzina Ivanishvili said that Georgia has passed its test and now it's up to NATO to take "practical steps" for Georgia's accession to the Alliance.
"We have passed a very interesting test - elections; that served for NATO to determine our prospects [for NATO membership]; we have done it. I reminded that we've done that", Bidzina Ivanishvili said after meeting in his residence in Tbilisi with NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai.
"And now they [NATO] on their part should take more principled and practical steps for Georgia to really become NATO member in the near future", Ivanishvili said.
Before meeting with Ivanishvili James Appathurai said that the alliance has yet to decide what will be next in the relationship between NATO and Georgia after conducting the parliamentary elections, which were the litmus test for the country's democracy, Georgia has passed "a very important part of this test".
"I have assured that on our part, we will do everything possible in order to establish in Georgia genuinely democratic institutions that is necessary for NATO [membership]", said Ivanishvili.
He reiterated the readiness of the future government to ensure that Georgian forces continued to participate in the war against Afghanistan under NATO auspices. Moreover, Ivanishvili proud of the fact Georgians are fighting with Muslims in this country.
"We are proud that together with NATO member states we are participating in the Afghan operation", said Ivanishvili.
However Ivanishvili continues to make overtures to Russia. After the announcement of the possible participation of Georgia in Putin's Olympics in Sochi and the closing of TV channel PIK, Ivanishvili said:
"In parallel to that we will do everything possible in order to mend relations with our huge neighbor, Russia, and to restore our territorial integrity", adding that these processes "are treated separately" from each other.
"We will do everything to ensure that Georgia was able to implement its strategy, its strategic interests in the near future and that we have become a member of NATO, and that we are truly a worthy member of the European countries", explained Bidzina Ivanishvili.
James Appathurai said after the meeting with Ivanishvili that he had "an excellent discussion" with the incoming PM.
"He has reiterated Georgia's commitment to NATO, to membership in NATO and to participation in the mission in Afghanistan", he said.
"I, from my part of course, has welcomed all of these, but also want to recommit NATO to Georgia, the future of Georgia in NATO, our gratitude for the contribution in Afghanistan and I express my condolences and NATO's condolences for the soldier, who lost his life, the eighteenth Georgian soldier; and also to Georgia's territorial integrity. Georgia is a close partner to the alliance and aspirant to NATO membership and we will remain absolutely committed to this country", Appathurai added.
Speaking with journalists before his meeting with Ivanishvili, the NATO Secretary General's special representative said that NATO-Russia and Georgian-Russian relations were "very complicated" issues.
"But bottom line for us... [is] that good relationship between NATO and Georgia and good relationship between NATO and Russia is not a zero-sum game... Better NATO-Russia relations are good for Georgia and so we think we can do both at the same time, we should do both at the same time and I know that outgoing government has always worked towards better relations with Russia... I know that incoming administration has stressed their focus on improving relations with Russia, including in the context of NATO accession".
"So frankly, I think, we're all on the same page. But the bottom line for NATO is only NATO countries decide on accession", Appathurai said, adding that NATO had reiterated for multiple times, including on the highest level, that Bucharest summit decision, that Georgia will join the Alliance, stands.
Department of Monitoring