On the second leg of his tour of four newly independent countries, NATO secretary general Javier Solana conferred on February 11-12 in Tbilisi with Georgian leaders. President Eduard Shevardnadze stated that although Georgia does not envisage joining NATO, it regards itself and the South Caucasus region as a constituent part of the "zone of European security" that will take shape with NATO’s eastward enlargement. That process should result in guarantees of security for small states, Shevardnadze was quoted as saying. He emphasized Georgia’s "vital interest" in eventually joining the European Union. Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze made a presentation on Georgia’s increasingly diverse military relations with foreign countries, including recent agreements on military cooperation with NATO members Turkey, Germany, and France, and candidate member Poland.
Solana for his part stated that the security of Europe would remain incomplete if the South Caucasus countries were not included. He described NATO’s main goal in the period ahead as buttressing the security of countries which "share all-European values," starting with the principles of territorial integrity and ethnic minority rights. The development of the alliance will ensure a place and voice in Europe for all countries, including Georgia, Solana said. (Iprinda, Interfax, February 11-12)
…And More Coolly in Armenia.