Georgia was named a NATO aspirant country for the first time on Thursday, the country’s deputy premier said.
Georgia, which has been proactively seeking NATO membership since a coup in 2003, was included on the list during a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers that opened on Wednesday in Brussels
“Georgia was for the first time mentioned among NATO aspirant nations… those countries who received a MAP (membership action plan) such as Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Deputy Prime Minister Georgi Baramidze, who is also minister for European integration.
The minister said the new status means that “Georgia has the same membership instruments as these countries.”
“NATO welcomes reforms in aspirant countries and supports their continuation,” Baramidze said.
Although Georgia is eager to join NATO, the five-day war in 2008 over Georgia’s breakaway territory of South Ossetia has made the alliance wary of taking up the issue. Russian troops are still present in South Ossetia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who attended a NATO-Russian council meeting in Brussels earlier on Thursday, has warned that Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia could be repeated if the South Caucasus state joined NATO.