Secretary General: ‘Further Work is Needed’ Before Georgia Can Join NATO (Video)

NATO allies "have some concerns" about Georgia

From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO:  Last October, Georgia experienced the peaceful transfer of power. For this, Prime Minister Ivanishvili deserves congratulations, and President Saakashvili deserves credit. Beacuse the true measure of a politician is not only how you gain power, but how you hand it over.

Later this year, President Saakashvili will step down. And when he does, he, his successor, and the Prime Minister will all be remembered as builders of democracy. . . .

NATO is far more than a military Alliance. NATO is a community of values. It is a family of nations that believes in freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.

As I look up the path ahead, I can see our shared destination of a stable and democratic Georgia at the heart of the Euro-Atlantic community. Georgia will become a member of NATO. But further work is needed to meet the requirements of membership.

For example, Georgia should continue to work to ensure the highest democratic standards

That starts with political compromise and dialogue.

We in NATO welcomed the Parliament’s decision to adopt unanimously the resolution on Georgia’s foreign policy course, including its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. We also welcomed the unanimous vote to amend the constitution. This is real political progress that should continue.

But the Allies do have some concerns, particularly regarding the judicial processes against former government officials.

As a politician, I’m not worried about political disagreements. That’s what democracy is all about. So, I would be worried for Georgia if there were no disagreements. Because it’s only in dictatorships that everyone seems to get along all the time.

But Georgia cannot afford even the perception of selective justice. Let me stress, corrupt or criminal officials must be prosecuted. But prosecution must never become, or be seen to be, an exercise in political revenge.

The Georgian government is committed to promoting due process, a politically independent and strong judiciary, and public confidence in the courts. And during my meeting with members of the government they all reaffirmed these basic values. So I trust the Georgian authorities to uphold the rule of law in each and every case. And I trust the Georgian people to stay actively engaged in holding your institutions of government to the highest standards. . . .

We will continue to follow events in Georgia closely, including the presidential elections in October. Free and fair elections will be an opportunity to reaffirm Georgia’s democratic credentials and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. . . .

Georgia has moved forward in many areas of its democratic development. And Georgia has moved a lot closer to NATO. The burden may still be on you now to continue to deliver the necessary reforms. But once you have delivered, the burden will be on us to live up to our pledge that Georgia will be a member of NATO.

Excerpts from keynote speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the National Library of Georgia, Tbilisi.  (photo: NATO)

Image: nato%206%2027%2013%20Rasmussen%20Georgia%201.jpg