Jens Stoltenberg speaks about perspectives of Georgia’s NATO membership, furthering relations
01 April, 2019
Jens Stoltenberg speaks about perspectives of Georgia’s NATO membership, furthering relations
The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg has recently visited Georgia for meetings with Georgian officials including newly-elected President Salome Zourabichvili. He also attended Nato-Georgia military exercises.

“Georgia and NATO will jointly decide when Georgia should become a member of NATO and no other party has the right to interfere” - NATO Secretary General said at a press conference held during his visit to Georgia.

Vazha Tavberidze, IWPR contributor in Georgia conducted an interview with Jens Stoltenberg. In the interview the
Secretary General clearly pointed out that Russia doesn't have any say on Georgia’s NATO membership:

“Helsinki Final Act, the document which defined the rights of all nations to choose their own path including to decide whether they would like to be part of a security alliance or not. Russia dislikes that - well that's their position. We adhere to the principle of every sovereign nation’s right to decide on its path, including Georgia.”

When asked about the comments from the Kremlin and Moscow that even cooperation might spell unpleasant surprises for Georgia, Jens Stoltenberg stated that it reflects Russia’s attitude which he deeply disagrees with. According to him, the attitude that Russia has the right to decide what Georgia or another neighbor can do has always been the wrong approach:

“Norway joined NATO in 1949; at that time the Soviet Union didn’t like that Norway joined the NATO but we still did join NATO; Russia has protested heavily every time NATO has been enlarged with the Baltic countries, Poland, with Romania and now we saw it recently when Montenegro joined. Russia protested about North Macedonia joining, but North Macedonia is still joining.”
Jens Stoltenberg
The interviewer also asked Jens Stoltenberg how much Georgia can rely on NATO if “unpleasant surprises” from Russia materialize. He said that NATO supports Georgia’s sovereignty and integrity. Jens Stoltenberg recited a list of NATO’s practical support for Georgia such as the training center, NATO-Georgia Commission, the annual national programme, NATO trainers and advisors in Georgia. The Secretary General claims that there is more NATO in Georgia than ever before because the country is part of the Alliance’s missions operations in many places. Meanwhile, he pointed out that they are extremely grateful with Georgia’s contribution to NATO’s security:

“First and the most important message is that NATO recognizes the territorial integrity of Georgia within its recognized international borders; second we call on Russia to withdraw its forces from Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to stop recognizing that; thirdly NATO made the decision that Georgia will become the member; we reiterated that many times; so I am actually certain we will find ways to deal with it.”

In the interview, Jens Stoltenberg emphasized that Georgia should focus on the reform, to improve democratic institutions, mobilize defense and security institutions. He can’t say exactly when Georgia’s membership takes place but when it does, Georgia should be ready. The interviewer commented on the reforms by saying that if reforms are the deciding factor, how countries like Montenegro and Macedonia joined the alliance and Georgia didn’t. The Secretary General stated that it is a political decision and every aspirant country has to be assessed on its own merits.

Lastly, when asked about Mikheil Saakashvili’s, former president of Georgia, comment on Finland and Sweden being the next targets of Russia’s threat, Jens Stoltenberg said that too many speculations just add to the uncertainty and may increase tensions:

“….so we should not, we should not increase tensions, we should try to reduce tensions and to continue to work for a better relationship with Russia - and that's the reason why NATO has a three-pronged approach: deterrence, defense, and dialogue - and second we don't see any imminent threat against any NATO ally; we see threats for terrorist attacks, with cyber attacks but we don't see any threat…”

Related stories:

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrives in Tbilisi

Jens Stoltenberg and members of alliance support Georgia’s integration with NATO

Jens Stoltenberg: “Georgia has all instruments to prepare for NATO membership”

“NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019” begins

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