Georgia will one day join the alliance, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, 10 years after the Western military organization first promised the South Caucasus country it would become a member.
"NATO's door remains open," Stoltenberg said in Brussels on October 3 after chairing a meeting between Georgian and NATO defense ministers.
At a 2008 summit in Bucharest, NATO agreed that Georgia will eventually become a NATO member, but no firm date has been set, although the membership perspective for the country has been reconfirmed at every summit ever since.
Stoltenberg said the NATO allies “welcomed the continued progress Georgia is making on reforms, in particular on more effective security and defense institutions and modernizing their armed forces.”
The NATO chief said they also “restated their full support for Georgia’s sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity” and called on Russia to “end its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to withdraw its forces from these regions of Georgia.”
Georgia, a country of some 3.7 million people, fought a brief war with Russia in August 2008, and Moscow’s continued military presence in the country’s territory adds to tensions in the region.
After the war, Russia left thousands of troops in Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and recognized both as independent countries.
Ten years after Russia and Georgia went to war, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that Georgia’s joining NATO could lead to a "horrible" new conflict.
In an interview with the Kommersant FM radio station on August 6, Medvedev said that the military alliance’s plans to eventually offer membership to Georgia are "absolutely irresponsible" and a "threat to peace."