Georgia, Tbilisi, October 1 / Trend N. Kirtskhalia /
The Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen opened a liaison office in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Friday.
Rasmussen expressed his condolences to the Georgian people for the death of four Georgian servicemen in Afghanistan yesterday before cutting the ribbon on the new NATO liaison office.
"I am very sorry to learn about this. I want to express my sympathy for the Georgian people. I express my condolences to the parents and relatives who have lost their loved ones," he said.
"NATO appreciates partnership and participation of Georgia in Afghanistan's operations. Your support and participation in the operation side by side with our military is very important. We adopted a framework agreement at the Bucharest Summit. It determines our relations. We are working together within the NATO- Georgia commission over an annual program of actions that is bringing Georgia closer to NATO. NATO countries are helping Georgia to restore the country after the [August 2008] war [with Russia]," Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen said that the new office will be a key body between NATO and Georgia. The Georgian side will be able to use the expert potential to be concentrated in the office.
Polish diplomat Zbigniew Rybacki has been appointed to head the NATO office. About 10 people with diplomatic status will work in the office. The office is located on Atoneli Street, formerly the location of the U.S. embassy.
The Georgian Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze greeted Rasmussen on behalf of the Georgian government. He noted the success of Georgia in democracy building, consultations over the new constitution with the opposition, successful economic development and the fight against corruption.
"The NATO office is very important to us. I think that the establishment of the body in Georgia will accelerate Georgia's accession to the alliance. Today we are not dealing with whether Georgia will be NATO member and when it will happen. We appreciate NATO's support and recognition of the territorial integrity of our country, " he said.
The anthems of NATO and Georgia were performed at the end of the opening ceremony.