TBILISI, DFWatch – Ambassadors from NATO member countries yesterday reaffirmed their commitment made at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 that Georgia will become member of NATO, but made it clear that membership will require further reforms in the country.

They made these statements after a meeting of the NATO-Georgia commission in Tbilisi.

According to NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Georgia has moved closer to the North-Atlantic alliance.

“Georgia is very important to NATO and I know that NATO is important to Georgia. The Alliance fully supports reforms in Georgia and your aspiration to join the Alliance. We all agreed that Georgia will become a member of the Alliance in 2008 in Bucharest, and this decision is still valid,” he said.

“Now I’m saying that Georgia has moved closer to the Alliance. Our annual reports clearly indicate that Georgia has implemented number of reforms and the progress is evident; but it’s also obvious that there are still some works to be implemented,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen adds.

Due to his explanation, ‘some works’ are the reason why he cannot say ‘specifically when Georgia has to expect that it will become NATO member.’

NATO Secretary General made it clear that upcoming elections in 2012 and 2013 will be a democracy test for Georgia.

“We should pay more attention to election reforms. The 2012-2013 elections will certainly be a democracy test for Georgia, and we expect to see the necessary reforms,” he noted.

Georgia is developing in the right direction, according to Rasmussen, but it had not yet reached the ‘final destination’.

“You have achieved a lot. Georgia is moving in the right direction and you have chosen the long way for it; but you have not yet reached the final destination. Georgia desires for a full, mature, modern democracy. Our request is to continue to strengthen this democracy,” the Secretary General said.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen gave a number of recommendations to Georgia and called for rule of law, strengthening freedom of the media, to continue the fight against corruption and involving civil society into this process.

During the press conference, Rasmussen expressed support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

As the session drew to an end, the NATO-Georgia commission and the Georgian prime minister adopted a common statement which says that a session held on the level of ambassadors is a good way for NATO to learn about the reforms in Georgia since 2008, when the commission was set up. It also defines future cooperation priorities.

“After today’s meeting, it freely can be said that Georgia and NATO has firmly shook hands,” James Appathurai, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia concluded as he spoke with journalists.