Jaap de Hoop Scheffer made the comments after meeting Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in Brussels on February 27.
But Scheffer declined to be drawn on how realistic he considered Saakashvili's NATO-membership hopes.
The Georgian president on February 26 said he expected Tbilisi would be invited in the next year or two to join NATO's Membership Action Plan, the next stage to eventual membership:
"That is an answer i cannot possibly give, because I stick to my iron rule that I never give time frames or dates or months or years," Scheffer said. "It's a performance-based process, and performance is first and foremost -- Georgia has performed well and is performing well -- in the hands of Georgia and the Georgians. So I'm not going to go into any detail about time frames or years or months or whatever."
Scheffer said the road to NATO was a "long and winding" one.