Georgia deserves to join NATO, says defence minister in Vilnius

“If there is any country out there in the world, which deserves (NATO) membership, that would be Georgia,” Khidasheli said at a joint news conference with Lithuania’s Defence Minister Juozas Olekas.

Georgia has asked NATO to provide it with a Membership Action Plan during the Warsaw summit next year. The plan would be a significant step towards fully-fledged membership, although it is still unclear whether the large Western European nations will approve.

“Getting MAP is not a dream of Georgia, the dream of Georgia is becoming a member of NATO,” she added.

The Georgian defence minister expressed hope that the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in December will assess the progress made by Georgia and its participation in NATO operations.

Khidasheli also said Georgia wanted to join the Alliance and the European Union (EU) in response to the changing security situation.

“As long as freedom is expanding, the authoritarian rule stops its action. Freedom is occupying larger territories, there is no rule for aggression. But when we say that okay, there is where the free land ends, the authoritarian rule, aggression and occupation takes over. I believe that the free world can not allow that and there will be a possibility to prove it, both the European Union and NATO,” said the Georgian minister.

Olekas, in his turn, said Lithuania supported Georgia’s aspiration of joining NATO.

“Lithuania continuously supports Georgia and is one of the most consistent Georgian supporters,” said the minister.

In his words, Georgia’s territorial clashes with Russia should not be an obstacle on its path to the Alliance.

Russia has recognized independence of Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the 2008 war. Russia constantly keeps thousands of its troops in military bases in the regions. The international community views the regions as occupied Georgian territories..

At the 2008 Bucharest summit, NATO said Georgia would join NATO, however, the possibility seems vague in the nearest future.

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