NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has visited Tbilisi State University and held discussion with Georgian students. As university Rector Gia Khubua stated during his speech, this was Scheffer’s third visit to the university and he is happy to have been given the opportunity to host him as Rector.
Scheffer had visited the university as Foreign Minister of Netherlands when he was Chair of OSCE. “We were in Georgia at the end of 2007 and could not have imagined then that such dreadful things could happen in such a small and beautiful country. I’m not here alone this time. There are 26 national Ambassadors here with me, demonstrating the support of the alliance for Georgia”, he stated.
Scheffer stressed that NATO stands beside Georgia today and will continue to do so. “The fulfilment of the six point agreement by both sides is fundamental for the stabilization of the events in Georgia. I believe that the efforts made by President Sarkozy to overcome this conflict and maintain Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are unequivocally supported by NATO member states. We didn’t only condemn Russia’s decision over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, we called upon Russia to change it. We certainly will not continue with the previous relations we had with Russia, although we won’t be able to ignore it. Russia is a reality and it is not right to ignore reality,” Scheffer stated.
The NATO Secretary-General said that if Georgia continues on its journey towards integration with Euro-Atlantic structures this will be a punishment for Russia. “Georgia is situated in this geographical area and we can’t move it anywhere. Our state will have to have relations with Russia no matter whether Georgians want it or not. You know that the Russian economy is seriously failing. Look what’s happening on the Russian stock exchange - the result of this intervention. Russia is already being punished,” Scheffer concluded, before answering questions from students for about 20 minutes.
Rector Khubua stated that Georgians have a choice, and that choice is NATO integration.