Joint Press Conference between the President of Georgia and NATO Secretary General
The President of Mikheil Saakashvili
The visit of NATO Secretary General has been coincided with very unfortunate fact.
Yesterday night we have received very unfortunate news about the tragic death of Colonel Ramaz Gogiashvili, Sergeant Dato Tsetskhladze, Corporal George Kolkhitashvili and Corporal Nugzar Kalandadze.
Being Soldier is a very honorable but at the same time very dangerous profession.
This is the profession that requires great devotion and self-sacrifice.
Georgian warriors traditionally, fought in many countries, during all our history.
Our warriors commanded the armies of old Persia, Ottoman Empire, Egypt and Russia.
The monument of our officers stands in Poland, in the center of Warsaw. They presented the main force of marshal Pilsutski, in twenties of last century they saved Poland, and after this many of them died in the Warsaw strike.
Georgia has the big history of armed forces, big history of fighting, but it rarely had the experience of fighting under the Georgian flag.
Today our officers, soldiers, are fighting and self-sacrificing firstly under the five-crossed flag.
When I was sending the soldiers to Afghanistan, I spoke with them. Surely they fully acknowledged the risk. They were full of honor, since they were going to fight under the five-crossed flag, firstly, for the protection of national interests of Georgia.
Today the interests of Georgia are stopped at the occupation line of its territories and in other parts, where they are located, but the big international fight is in progress against Georgia and Georgia from its part is involved in international war.
It would be a big mistake to determine state's interests in the Georgia's borders, while a global political struggle Is conducted against us.
We have international interests and have allies and friends. The fact that our five-crossed flag is raised above this building, also the fact that Georgia successfully proceeds development, as independent country, although 20 percent of its territory is occupied, is the big deserve of our international links, our friends, our communion.
Considering this we have to understand the self-abnegation of our boys in Afghanistan, also the sacrifice for those international interests, that has our small country, since I would say again that the international fight is in progress against us. Our allies, our friends are the people that are doing everything for the safety, development and strengthening of Georgia.
Once again I would like to express my compliments in honor of our soldiers, I express my condolences to their families and I am proud that our country, our nation - has such devoted people, had in past and always will have.
I think is is extremely important that you are here.
We remember your brave statements in September 2008, when you came here in the most resolute moment for my country, but we also appreciate a lot of job you are doing as a Secretary General of NATO.
I think you call for NATO at very hard time , with great challenges, great reforms and interesting time for transformation, and on the other hand you know also the way you are engaging the partners of NATO not only members and allies, which shows that there is future to that organization. I think we are committed members of ISF.
Thank you for invitation to NATO summit in Portugal, for the summit of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), Thank you for the invitation to this NATO summit of Portugal, for the summit of ISAF.
We are committed members of all our NATO, and certainly we greatly count on the fact that , you should count on our support and standing by NATO, and we count on your further political support, for our territorial integrity, for our independence, and for future development of my country Georgia.
Thanks you again the Secretary General for your brave work, your grat job ,for your great support, and for being here at this very painful moment.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Thank you very much Mr. President.
And for your kind words and for your worm reception.
Today it is indeed great pleasure for me to be back in Georgia.
It was with great sadness I received the message that Georgian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan.
Let me convey my deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones.
These brave Georgian soldiers have payed the highest price in the fight for freedom and against terrorism, you can be proud of them .
Their sacrifice will not be in vain, we are making progress in Afghanistan and I assure you that we will stay as long as it takes to finish our job, to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe heaven for terrorists.
Eventually we will hand over responsibilities to the Afghans themselves , when they are capable to take that responsibility.
To that end we need continued effort from ISAF, partners and NATO allies. Your soldiers are doing a great job in the Hellman province as well as in Kabul .
We appreciate the very significant Georgian commitment to our operation in Afghanistan, it is a very clear testament to your strong commitment to our alliance and we are very grateful for that. I can assure you that NATO also stands firm in our commitment to Georgia.
Our position remains the same as the decision we took in Bucharest in 2008 , where NATO decided that Georgia will become a member of NATO providing of course that Georgia fulfill the necessary criteria with standard to assist you in due to reform your society, to fulfill this criteria and we look forward to continue our cooperation within the NATO, Georgian commission and I am very happy that I have been able to inaugurate the NATO Liaison office here in Tbilisi today in the partnership between Georgia and NATO.
We insist on full respect for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, rehash and non- recognition policy, as regards Abkhazians and South Ossetian and we call on Russia to fulfill the commitments according to the 6 points agreement from 2008 .
Having said that it is also my clear intention to improve the relationship between Russia and NATO. Leading hopefully to a true strategic partnership.
I do believe that in our mutual interest and it is also in the interest of Georgia.
I think we should develop practical cooperation with Russia in areas where we share security interests , counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, counter-piracy and I would also mention missile defense as in area where we could and should cooperate with Russia.
I do believe that Russia's future lies within positive cooperation with NATO and the EU.
My vision is to see the development of a true Euro-Atlantic security architecture, where also Russia and Georgia can live in peace and harmony with each other .
Journalist: Giorgi Gabunia broadcastng company ,"Rustavi 2".
Mr. secretary General you have just said that the relationship with Russia is one of the main priorities for NATO. NATO-Russia council which worked after the August 2008 war and has also been restarted, but meanwhile Russia continues to occupy Georgian territories and does not fulfill international obligations, Russian forces are still in Georgia, it is fact. Also Russia's NATO's membership of its NATO countries and considers North-Atlantic alliance as one of its main threats.Taken all these into account , and Russians have invaded Georgia, how do you see the future of Russian - Georgian relationships and of course Russia-NATO relationships?
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: First of all , let me stress that NATO's open-door policy is based on the fundamental principle to quit all these EU countries including Russia has subscribed that it is the right for each individual country to decide its alliance affiliation itself, that ‘s the basic principle, Each country has a right to decide its security policy and its alliance affiliation. So this is basically how we see our open-door policy, and I don't think this basic principle is in contradiction with the development of positive relationship and partnership with Russia . The fact is that our open-door policy has contributed to create peace and stability alone Russia's western borders. Our open door-policy has created a framework for economic development and prosperity in eastern and central Europe. At the end they also has been to the benefit of Russia. Russia's trade with these countries has increased Russia's investment in these countries.So it is of mutual benefits to have an open mind when it comes to our open door policy . We are strict with principle, that each country has a right to decide its alliance affiliation itself . As |I said as regards Russia-Georgia's relationship I do believe that it is also to the benefit of Georgia to see tensions reduced , to see an improvement f the overall security of environment. If we succeed in developing a true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia then it will also improve Georgia's security situation.
Journalist: TV company "Imedi", Eka Soselia.
Mr. Secretary General you have already visited Georgia after 2008 Russian occupation and you expressed open support to Georgia's integrity and sovereignty. As a secretary general you delivered a number of analogous statements . You say that Georgia's issue remains disputable between NATO-Russia's relationship. I have such kind a question. What can the alliance do in order Russia to fulfill its commitment and to start deoccupation of the country? Thank you
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: I can confirm that in our dialogue with Russia we raise our concerns as regards Georgia. I think the right approach is to strengthen that dialog. Recently, NATO has suggested that we resume talks on conventional arms control in Europe, within the framework of the so-called CFE treaty. We have made clear that resume talks on conventional arms control should be based on at least three fundamental principles: firstly, mutual transparency, secondly mutual restrain and thirdly,host nation consent. It is the basing of troops, which should be based on host nation consent. I hope the thing in such a framework could share as deliverness for discussing the situation in Abkhazia, south Ossetia,TransDnestria. In conclusion I think a dialog is a right way for to find peaceful solutions to this unfortunate conflict.
Journalist : Reuter News Agency, Caucasus bureau
Mr. Secretary General, you have just stated that Georgian soldiers have payed the highest price and the sacrifice won't be in vain. In the way this sacrifice is seen by the Georgia's society as the price which Georgia pays for its aspiration to join the alliance. Do you think that the attitudes of some countries which are strongly opposing Georgia's membership into NATO have changed since 2008 war? And I understand you are not going to tell us any kind of timetable when Georgia might become a member, but probably you would be more specific ahead of upcoming summit of NATO in Portugal. Thank you very much.
And I have another question to the President, whether joining NATO is still one of number one priorities for the country? Thank you
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: First of all I would like to stress that we are first and foremost in Afghanistan for our own security to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe heaven for terrorists, so unfortunately and very sadly some of our soldiers pay the highest price in the fight for our security, for freedom and against the terrorism. That is how I see it. Next part of your question. I would expect the NATO summit in Lisbon to reaffirm our position which we took already in Bucharest in 2008, that Georgia will become a member of NATO once Georgia fulfills the necessary criteria .In the meantime re-continue positive cooperation in the framework of Georgia-Nato commission.
Mikheil Saakashvili: First of all it is states priority and of course the priority of Georgia's government . One of the main purposes of the agression and occupation of Georgian territory is proclaimed one - that Georgia should give up the aspirations to become member of NATO .But the way it construe is that Georgia should become ambition to the independent , self-efficient country. That is what is at stake. It is not just about NATO, it is about Georgia being free , whole and independent, Of course , we will never give up this . It is interrelated ,part of each other, there is no separate Georgia-NATO. Georgia is independent for us for many historic circumstances,for the way the adversaries of our independence have proved it, there is no artificial division and separation. There are no compromise of those ones. There are many other compromises, we certainly are flexible and here are a number of other issues. We are flexible and very open for engagement with Russia and certainly we have a very good relationship with all of our neighbors without any exception. But there is one thing which Georgia can never compromise . This is securing freedom and for us right now NATO stands for the idea of freedom . That's we should have very strong support of Georgia's nation and overall, of political spectrum in Georgia.
Journalist: Nino Gomarteli, "The first channel":
I wonder your opinion on Silvio Berluscone's statement, when he stated that he saved the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili from hanging.
Mikheil Saakashvili: I would like to tell you that this is not the first time Silvio Berluscone states this. He delivered a speech in parliament yesterday and brought arguments about his merit in front of the mankind and Italy during recent several years. He also stated as the main argument bringing me down from the tallest tree and saving me from hanging on it. First, I would like to stress that we are grateful to the EU, we are grateful for the role that EU tried to play, but how it has worked - this is another issue. The treaty on cease fire agreement is not fulfilled, and as we understand it is even not acknowledged by Russia. The active participation of European leaders is very positive, that we support and we Will support it in future as well. I would like to say that in 2008, when Denmark and other states delivered serious statements, I would like to remind all of you that period, several hours after the war had started, when Condoleeza Rice asked Russia what was its foreign intentions in connection with Georgia. Russia's response was very short. It answered : "Full annihilation of Georgia", as Americans told us.
I think Russians used the analogous term. They did not mean hanging the President, but annihilation of the state. They made an offer, Tbilisi airport would not be bombed if the government of Georgia would leave the country, and would deliver it to aggressors, as in 1921. So, the main thing in 2008 was that Georgian people stood together, held each others hands, for several days our troops resisted and showed their strong potential, and the world commonwealth participated in it. The US started humanitarian military operation, the US 6th fleet moved towards Georgia. The President of the US Mr. Bush made specific remarks on military humanitarian operation, among them on military aspects with the head of Pentagon and the US secretary of state . If we talk about international commonwealth, I understand that our friend Silvio Berlusconi had close, warm relations with Vladimir Putin and he used it for benefit - I welcome this. I think in fact the main role for Georgian survival played our friends' assistance.
I am going back to Afghanistan operations . It is true that our line of defense is in Georgia, but it also goes outside Georgia. They know our soldiers activities in Afghanistan, I would say it to them who needs explanation, despite the sacrifice we had yesterday.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: I wonder if I can ask you about your reaction on the attack that this morning took place on the convoy of tracks going from Afghanistan to Pakistan. 27 vehicles were banned How it intensifies the need of NATO to seek alternative route into Afghanistan? I just want you to comment on this.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: I don't have detailed information about this attacks.
Mikheil Saakashvili: In any case one thing about the alternative route . Georgia certainly has used one of the alternative route for certain products and I think we have very good logistics because if you look at the whole cargo going to Georgia, through Georgia to central Asia in direction of Northern China and also in Afghanistan is very safe. I mean safe in terms of hard safety and in terms of political safety [route]. I can guarantee you there is no way to block any of the transit of cargoes anywhere.That is my last ultimate pledge to you, Secretary general, but there is of course much more to go and offer you from our side .Thank you