Georgia's Separatist Conflicts 'No Obstacle' To NATO
February 19, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said today that Georgia's unresolved conflicts with the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia should not be an obstacle to the country's entry into NATO, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports.
Steinmeier (right) with Georgian counterpart Gela Bezhuashvili in Tbilisi on February 19 (epa)
"Of course, it is in the interest of NATO and NATO members that new NATO members do not bring their conflicts into the alliance along with them," Steinmeier, whose country holds the rotating EU Presidency, said at a news conference in Tbilisi.
"On the other hand, it doesn't mean we should view the lack of a resolution as an obstacle to accession," he added. "If we [view it as an obstacle], then we will enable third parties to drag out the rapprochement process endlessly."
Steinmeier is in Georgia as part of a Caucasus tour aimed at promoting closer relations with Europe and exploring possibilities to reduce the EU's dependence on Russian oil and gas.
He visited Azerbaijan earlier today. He is due to complete his tour with a visit to Armenia on February 20.