NATO praises aspiring member Georgia
Deputy NATO head Alexander Vershbow on Thursday praised Georgia's democratic reforms and reiterated the alliance's commitment to the ex-Soviet country's eventual membership in the 28-nation bloc.
"We truly commend the reforms aimed to strengthen your defence, rule of law, and governance," Vershbow told reporters in the Georgian capital Tbilisi after a meeting with the country's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.
"We see a mature democracy" in Georgia, the former US ambassador to Russia said, adding that "all 28 NATO allies are committed to Georgia's future membership in the alliance, provided it meets all necessary criteria."
"Integration into the North-Atlantic Alliance is a steadfast choice of the Georgian people and we are doing everything to achieve this goal," Garibashvili said for his part.
NATO leaders agreed in 2008 that Tbilisi could join at an unspecified future date but decided against giving Georgia a formal pre-membership status.
Last year NATO offered Tbilisi a "substantive package" aimed at "bringing Georgia closer to NATO."
Georgia's bid to join NATO and the European Union infuriated its former imperial master Russia, which bitterly opposes the alliance's expansion into former Soviet republics.
In 2008, Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war over the Kremlin-backed separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russia's then-president Dmitry Medvedev said in 2011 the war prevented NATO's expansion further into the post-Soviet space.
© 2015 AFP