23 Apr 2018 13:08

NATO Parliamentary Assembly hopes for Georgia's phased integration into Euro-Atlantic structures amid regional challenges

TBILISI. April 23 (Interfax) - The security of Georgia and the Black Sea region is an element of European security, NATO Parliamentary Assembly President Paolo Alli said at the 97th Rose-Roth Seminar in Batumi on Monday.

Russia has occupied Georgian lands and annexed Crimea, the situation in Ukraine has grown complicated, and Moscow is fighting to strengthen its position in Syria, where it is working directly with the al-Assad regime, and NATO has much to do to preserve stability, security, and democracy, Alli said.

Georgia can become a full member of NATO, but that will require deeper cooperation with the alliance, Alli said.

The ongoing cooperation is a good example of Georgia' integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, he said.

Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze said that the country had made progress thanks to strong support from Western partners.

"Alas, we can see that our regions occupied by Russia have found themselves in an extremely difficult situation. People living in those regions are deprived of many rights and are unable to use the opportunities enjoyed by the rest of the Georgian population. It is our goal to make the Euro-Atlantic process accessible to every citizen who lives within the internationally recognized borders of Georgia," Janelidze said.

For his part, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili mentioned the importance of the context of Russia, its foreign policy, and its relations with other countries of the region for understanding Georgia's situation.

"We learned about Russia's vision for relations with its neighbors at the Munich Security Conference in 2007. We again learned about Russia's strategy, which includes hallmarks of the Cold War, in 2018," Margvelashvili said.

Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze also criticized Russia's foreign policy at the seminar.

"Russia's conduct in the region, especially over the past decade, has led to changes that undermine international security. As we are attending this seminar, Russia is beefing up its military resources in the occupied Georgian regions," Kobakhidze said.

The international community should not disregard "Russia's aggressive actions," Kobakhidze said.

"Despite internal difficulties, the European Union and NATO should not abandon the policy of expansion, and should be more active in cooperating with unaffiliated countries in order to promote their security and sovereignty. If the 'open door' policy is put on hold, there will be new spheres of influence and dividing lines in Europe," Kobakhidze said.

The Rose-Roth Seminar is taking place in Batumi on April 23-25. The delegates are discussing Euro-Atlantic integration and Georgian reforms. The seminar involves representatives of the Georgian administration, NATO member states and partners, the diplomatic corps, and non-governmental organizations.