Accessibility links

Breaking News

NATO Chief Says Georgia, Not Russia, Must Decide On NATO Membership

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze

BRUSSELS -- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has defended Georgia’s right to decide for itself whether it wants to join NATO, saying that Russian pressure against Tbilisi on the issue is “totally unacceptable.”

“Russia has no right to decide what neighbors of Russia can do,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels on July 18 at a joint press conference with Georgia’s new prime minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze.

“Georgia is a sovereign, independent nation and Georgia has the right to decide its own path, including what kind of security arrangements Georgia wants to be part of,” Stoltenberg said.

“The whole idea that a neighbor tells a neighbor what they can do and what they cannot do is totally unacceptable because that is to reestablish the old idea of spheres of influence where big powers were in a position where they could decide what small neighbors could do or not do.”

Speaking beside Stoltenberg, Bakhtadze said “Georgian membership in NATO is not aimed against somebody. It just makes the region stronger, more predictable, and more secure.”

“Georgia is an independent country and we are making decisions ourselves,” Bakhtadze said. “The decisions of NATO are made on a consensus basis. This means that it’s Georgia and 29 countries [in NATO] that have to make a decision when Georgia will become a member.”

With reporting by RFE/RL correspondent Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.