World Bulletin/News Desk
NATO said on Thursday it was looking at ways to bring Georgia "even closer" to the military alliance, in the latest signal of support for the former Soviet republic as tension mounts between Russia and the West over Ukraine.
James Appathurai, NATO Special Representative for the Caucasus, said he would not let Russia's words or actions influence the final decision on whether to make Georgia a full member, a likely reference to Moscow's opposition to the move.
That war was partly a result of Tbilisi's long-running drive to move closer to the EU and join NATO, an alliance of 28 nations that has been the core of European defence for more than 60 years.
Despite attempts by Moscow and Tbilisi to improve ties after a change of government in Georgia in 2012, they have still not restored diplomatic relations and Russia annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in March revived Georgian security concerns.
"What Russia says or does will not influence our decision ... We will judge Georgia on Georgia's merits and regardless of what's happening elsewhere and regardless of comments from the Kremlin or elsewhere," Appathurai told a news conference in Georgia's capital Tbilisi.
Appathurai praised Georgia's progress. "I can tell you that overall, this assessment in NATO is positive. Year after year Georgia continues to improve and that's because of the hard work done in this country," Appathurai said.
Georgia has strategic importance because it is on the route of pipelines which carry oil and gas from the landlocked Caspian Sea - seen by many countries as an alternative to Russian energy - to world markets.Last Mod: 01 Mayıs 2014, 22:13