Rasmussen: Georgia has NATO as a friend
Tbilisi - Georgia's upcoming parliamentary elections followed by a presidential election in 2013 will be a test for Georgian democracy, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Tbilisi on Thursday.
At a briefing with President Mikheil Saakashvili, Rasmussen said that the future was in Georgia's hands but it should know that it had NATO as a friend.
He stressed that Georgia was a special partner for NATO.
Rasmussen praised Georgia's participation in NATO's operation in Afghanistan.
In autumn, Georgia will become a major non-NATO contributor to the NATO-led multinational forces in that country, he said.
Although the alliance will complete its mission in Afghanistan in 2014, it will continue to provide support to the Afghan Armed Forces, NATO's chief said.
At its 2008 Bucharest summit, NATO announced that it would wish to see Georgia among its members in the future, and this position was confirmed at the alliance's recent summit in Chicago, he said.
Commenting on Russian officials' statements that the August 2008 war had been necessary, apart from anything else, to prevent Georgia from joining NATO, Rasmussen said that if that had indeed been the aim of that conflict, it had failed.
No third country has a right to interfere with NATO decisions, NATO is conducting an "open doors" policy and hopes that Russia would respect its decision, he said.
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