Georgian President Demands NATO Membership Timetable | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 20.11.2008
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Georgian President Demands NATO Membership Timetable

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili demanded Thursday that his Caucasus republic be offered a timetable showing what it must do to qualify for membership in NATO.

Mikhail Saakashvili, centre, Nicolas Sarkozy, left, and Jose Manuel Barroso

Mikhail Saakashvili (center) has continued courting Europe

Saakashvili was in Munich paying his first visit to Germany since his nation's war with Russia this summer.

"Not offering Georgia a plan of action leading to membership will send the wrong signal to the wrong people," he said.

Russia has strongly opposed Georgia being absorbed into NATO, insisting that the former Soviet republic is within its sphere of influence.

Timetables, or membership action plans, offer new entrants a transition period to reshape their military institutions to NATO standards. Both Georgia and Ukraine are believed to be on the cusp of receiving MAPs.

Russia still 'occupying' Georgia

Saakashvili met Thursday with the premier of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, and opened an honorary Georgian consulate in Munich.

He took the opportunity to criticize Russia, saying it was preventing half a million Georgians from returning to their homes in two breakaway territories -- South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- which Russia has recognized as independent states.

He added that Russian troops were still occupying one fifth of Georgian territory.

The Georgian president also said that "Georgia belongs to Europe" and had a European history and European hopes.

He also shared his hopes his country would obtain a partnership and association agreement with the European Union, despite also insisting Tbilisi still sought better relations with Russia.

"I don't believe anybody is happy about the situation (after the August war)," he said.

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