George Robertson: Georgia may join NATO despite internal conflicts

Georgia may join NATO despite the unresolved internal conflicts. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced by NATO General Secretary George Robertson in Tbilisi yesterday.

However, Mr Robertson also said that 'it will not be easy for Georgia to integrate into NATO.' He also stressed that the Caucasus is an important area for NATO. 'I understand that Russia is playing a leading role in establishing security and stability in the Caucasus region,' said Mr Robertson, 'but this will not affect the integration process between Georgia and NATO.'

The NATO general secretary refused to name three former Soviet republics which could potentially enter NATO but he did say that all being well Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia could become fully-fledged NATO members in 2004. He also said he was pleased about the interest which the Georgian government has shown in the new NATO methods and the willingness it has shown to cooperate with the alliance.

Mr Robertson arrived in Tbilisi yesterday morning on a short visit and then set off for Yerevan. From Yerevan he will travel to Baku. In Georgia he met Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze as well as the Georgian ministers of defence and foreign affairs.

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