James Appathurai, the NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, on Wednesday said he did not have an “exact answer” when Georgia would become a NATO member country, but noted it was “clear” that “sooner or later” it would happen, highlighting the country as “one of the closest partners” for the alliance.
Appathurai said the 2008 Bucharest Summit declaration supporting Georgia’s and Ukraine's bids to join the alliance would remain unchanged, noting the 2023 Vilnius Summit would focus on “several new directions”.
As for Georgia, I can absolutely assure you that Georgia is at a very high level on NATO's agenda each day, [...] We have already decided to intensify the relationship with Georgia, [...] the discussion is underway to soon realise the enhanced cooperation programme”, the NATO representative noted.
"It is a fact that Georgia is one of the closest partners for NATO and in my opinion, this is the case when the alliance does not have such strong representation in any other countries outside NATO as it has in Georgia. We have a very active, daily relationship with the representative office of Georgia. [...] We will further deepen this”, he emphasised.
The NATO representative noted some challenges had been identified in Georgia, including political polarisation, “holding back” some essential reforms, and emphasised that the country had to progress in implementing reforms in this regard.
Referring to Georgia’s support to Ukraine, Appathurai said NATO “understands the unique and difficult situation existing in the country, especially when the Russian army is not far from the capital [Georgia’s capital Tbilisi]”, stressing the importance to provide “maximum support” to Ukraine, as its victory against Russia would be important for the security of Georgia.