Tbilisi, 29 May 2017 – NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly passed a Declaration on Monday in support of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, urging Allied governments to provide “strong political and practical support” as the country moves closer to the Alliance.
The Assembly, meeting in Georgia for the first time, reaffirmed its support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and called on Russia to withdraw its military forces from the illegally occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“Georgia and its people have made a clear choice: Georgia belongs in the Euro-Atlantic community of nations,” said Paolo Alli, President of the NATO PA. He said the imminent entry of Montenegro into NATO was an example for Georgia’s aspirations.
“Montenegro’s accession is an important step for Georgia … and for all those other nations that aspire to join NATO,” Alli said at a plenary session attended by the president and prime minister of Georgia. “It sends a clear signal that NATO’s door is indeed open, and that no amount of outside pressure can prevent aspirants from pursuing their membership goal.”
The four-day meeting in Tbilisi marked only the fifth time in its six-decade history that the NATO PA has held a session outside the trans-Atlantic Alliance. Alli and several other lawmakers visited the boundary line dividing occupied South Ossetia from the rest of Georgia, barely an hour’s drive from Tbilisi.
The Assembly urged NATO governments to advance the political dimension of Georgia’s NATO integration, to create the conditions to grant a Membership Action Plan that would prepare it for joining the Alliance.
It called for intensified efforts to support Georgia, including through joint exercises, strengthening defensive capabilities and enhancing its ability to tackle hybrid threats such as propaganda and disinformation campaigns.
“Georgia needs all the support it can get to resist the aggression of Russia,” said Rasa Jukneviciene, the Lithuanian lawmaker who presented the declaration. “I am convinced that one day Georgia and Ukraine will become outstanding members of NATO.”
Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili also expressed confidence that Georgia would become a NATO member. “We are waiting with patience for the day when the Alliance decides to become stronger by accepting Georgia as a member,” he told the meeting. “I think this day is not very far away.”
The NATO PA declaration reaffirmed the Assembly’s commitment to the Alliance’s Open Door Policy for all European democracies and said that membership was a decision for Allied countries and the aspiration nation that “cannot be influenced by a third country.”
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said the steady progress towards integration showed the country was on the right track with its efforts to align itself with Western democratic norms. “Our stable movement toward NATO and EU integration confirms success of Georgia’s reforms and transformation,” he said.
NATO lawmakers also expressed support for Ukraine as it confronts Russian aggression. Andriy Parubiy, chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament addressed the Assembly. “Ukraine and Georgia are on the frontline, they are like strongholds of the free world, stopping the aggressor,” he said. “Integration into NATO is our way to liberty.”