15:04 GMT +322 September 2019
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    Georgian servicemen stand at the opening of a joint NATO-Georgia training center outside Tbilisi, Georgia, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015

    Georgian Membership in EU, NATO 'Not Immediate Issue'

    © AP Photo / Georgy Abdaladze
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    Georgian bid to become a member of the European Union and NATO is not an immediate issue, former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said Monday.

    TBILISI (Sputnik) — According to the former prime minister, rapprochement with the West does not mean alienating from close neighbors.

    "Georgian bid for EU-membership is not on the short-term agenda," he wrote in an open letter to his party Georgian Dream adding that Tbilisi would go a long way to get a seat in the European military and economic blocs.

    "Foreign policy is ultimately pointed in Euro-Atlantic direction. The pro-Western line does not mean that we will not respect our neighbors and not take into account their interests. On the contrary, our strategy provides friendly relations with our neighborhood and beyond," Ivanishvili said.

    Relations between Brussels and Tbilisi are determined by the association agreement signed in 2014. In March, the European Commission proposed to lift visa regime for Georgian citizens.

    In 2008, Georgia applied for membership in NATO. Since then a NATO commission has monitored Tbilisi's progress in matching the standards of the military bloc. Georgian membership in the alliance will be addressed at the NATO June summit in Warsaw.

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    NATO, European Union, Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia
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