`ISAF is not Ticket to NATO`
27 June, 2013
`ISAF is not Ticket to NATO`
It’s early to speak about the specific date of NATO expansion, Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in interview with the broadcasting company “Imedi” and said that participation in ISAF is not a ticket to NATO membership.
“I want to express sincere condolences for the death of Georgian soldiers. Georgia’s participation in the operation is very important, but I must underscore that it is not ticket to membership. For the country to become a mem
ber, certain criteria must be met. Fundamental reforms are necessary, including in the defense field. Georgia continues this process and we value its steps towards this route, but it’s too early to speak about the specific dates of NATO expansion”, Rasmussen said.
He said NATO is glad that the new government of Georgia continues the practice of relations with NATO. “Georgia’s policy in relations with NATO continues. The new government shares the values of previous one. Despite the challenges, we see cohabitation and this is a part of political culture”, the secretary General of the alliance declared.
As for the journalist’s question, how he assessed the Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement about presumably leaving politics, Rasmussen said it is an interior political issues.
“Of course we are not going to interfere with the interior political processes, we value that Ivanishvili continues the policy of the previous government regarding the relations with the North Atlantic Alliance. I presume this course will continue no matter who will be his substitute”, Rasmussen said.
NATO Secretary General commented about the detention of the former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili and voiced hope that the government will consider the rule of law.
Accreditation has been issued to about 300 journalists to cover the visit of the North Atlantic Council, head of the information centre on NATO and EU Elene Gotsadze declared. 
“Interest is great, from Georgian and foreign journalists in these events. Accreditation has been issued to about 300 journalists, including the local and international media representatives”, Elene Gotsadze said.
Besides, the NATO Facebook page published a photo gallery of Georgia-NATO relations, “Georgia’s deepening partnership with NATO”. The photo gallery starts from 1992, when Georgia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. The gallery offers events chronologically, namely that in 1994 Georgia joined Partnership for Peace; in 1997 Georgia joined the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council; in 1999 Georgian troops are deployed as part of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR); in 2002 Georgia declares NATO membership aspirations, also announces its intention to develop an Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO to tighten the focus of cooperation on support for reforms.
The photo gallery ends with the event in November 2012 when the newly elected Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili addresses the press during a visit to NATO Headquarters in November 2012. He emphasizes his government’s commitment to achieve the goal to become a full-fledged member of NATO.
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