POLITICS
NATO Week Sums Up Chicago Summit
21 June, 2012

From June 11 to June 16, Georgia hosted the 5th NATO Week. It abounded with different kinds of events, meetings and visits. The main guest was James Apparthurai, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Apparthurai arrived to take part in “NATO Week”, which he officially opened on June 11 together with Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze at Courtyard Marriott Hotel.  The two had a meeting before the conference started. They met with the representatives of

NGOs, Georgian public sector, media, professors from the universities of the Capital as well as from regions, the Foreign Minister of Georgia, the Speaker of the Parliament and members of diplomatic corps. The main topic for discussion was results of the Chicago NATO Summit.  This was the first wide debate with the Georgian civil sector in the wake of the Summit. Yanis Sarts, Latvian Deputy Minister of Defence also took part in the discussions. On the same day, Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze and Yanis Sarts met with the students and professors of the Free University with the following issues for discussion: NATO timetable and policy. After the introduction, they answered the questions of the students.  During the opening proceedings, Apparthurai thanked Georgia for participating in the ISAF mission, and expressed his condolence in connection with the death of 16 Georgian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. Georgia is not just aspiring to become a NATO member, but is doing everything to this end, he said.
He underlined that decisions on Georgia at the Chicago summit were very important and it was important that Georgia was among four countries called ‘aspirant countries’.
“Georgia is an important participant in the international security system and is actively involved in the NATO operation in Afghanistan. The alliance appreciates this and believes that Georgia makes a major contribution to the fight against international terrorism,” Apparthurai said on June 10, when he arrived at the airport.
He added that Georgia is the country NATO can rely on.
Like his chief, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen did while visiting Georgia earlier this year, James Apparthurai emphasized the importance of upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, and said they will be a serious test for Georgian democracy. Also the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about the importance of conducting transparent and fair elections when she visited Georgia two weeks ago.
Giorgi Baramidze, Vice Premier and State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, stated for journalists before the conference: “Celebration of NATO week has turned into a tradition and it is important to be hosting such a person as James Apparthurai who represents the Secretary General of NATO here. This week is particularly important for us as it is held following Chicago summit that was one more important step forward towards Georgia’s integration into NATO. We are glad that NATO has acknowledged the positive steps taken on part of Georgia, namely, the ongoing reforms that are being implemented successfully. Georgia is represented by its own contribution in the overall Euro-Atlantic security system and we are not only consumers of this general security. It was very significant that together with three Balkan states, Georgia was grouped in the aspirant countries, which means that it is steadily heading its way to integration. It was very worthy for us not only the fact of steady acknowledging of Georgia’s sovereignty and independence but also the support and summoning that we saw in regard with Russia. NATO has been relevant in assessing the constructive steps taken by Georgia in terms of peaceful conflict solving with Russia and ensuring the peaceful de-occupation of our territories. We look forwards and we never get satisfied by the success that was gained at Chicago Summit.  Of course, we are very happy with it, but we have ambitious plans and we are looking forward for new achievements - that’s what I mean. This implies keeping on with our reforms that will guarantee more and more success and will finally be reflected on our integration into NATO as ultimate goal.” Baramidze confirmed that upcoming Parliamentary and Presidential elections will be serous exam for Georgian democracy. “We will keep on implementing all reforms needed for achieving this goal, be it the police reform, anticorruption reform, those of law enforcement bodies, judiciary, economy etc, all those that are needed for our society for combating poverty and unemployment so that nothing could hamper our attaining NATO membership,” he concluded.    
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was established on 4 April 1949, with the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty by ten European and 2 North American founding countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal, as well as Canada and the United States of America. The main goal of the founding members was to oppose the risk of the USSR expanding its influence over Europe. By signing the Treaty, the members committed to mutually safeguarding their freedom and security by political and military means. The North America engagement in the Western European defence undoubtedly demonstrated that any attempt for political or military pressure on Western Europe would be doomed to failure. Presently, NATO is an organisation that differs significantly from the one established in 1949. The Alliance is neither the one that guaranteed defence to Western Europe for more than four decades during the Cold War, nor the one that observed the transition processes in Europe in early 1990s. NATO’s evolution is by no means a chance or a coincidence. The key to NATO’s success is in the resilience of its values and principles, i.e. in the firm ground on which it was built and on which it evolved. Today, NATO is not just an alliance for collective defence, but also a community of shared values. Given the ever changing nature of global security threats, it is the values of democracy, respect for human rights, and rule of law that have proven trustworthy for all member states.
This is the fifth year NATO days were held in Georgia. The organizers are Information Center on NATO and Office of the State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration. The events planned within the framework of the week covered almost all the regions of Georgia. The meetings took place with students, NGOs, religious and ethnic minorities, teachers and professors and civil society as well as it gave a space to the sports events, exhibitions, excursions, various contests and debates. 
The NATO Week in Georgia was rounded off by Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze and regular representative of Lithuania to NATO Kestutis Iankauskas at Telavi State  University, where they met with local students and professors.

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