Lithuanian president urges Georgia's faster integration to Europe
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus urged the European Union and NATO Wednesday to establish visa-free travel and free trade agreement with Georgia as a way for the country's "more speedy Euro-integration."
"The NATO allies should see the Membership Action Plan (MAP) as an opportunity for Georgia to reform the country, which in its own turn would facilitate the resolution of frozen conflicts," Adamkus urged the allies in his letter to NATO and the EU, reported the dpa.
NATO's MAP is a programme for aspiring members to join the military alliance. NATO recently delayed awarding MAP status to Georgia and Ukraine to defuse tensions with Russia.
The Baltic nation is also concerned that Russia is resolved to "establish official ties with the institutions of the self-declared separatist authorities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia without the consent of the government of Georgia," Adamkus said.
Tensions between Russia and Georgia have escalated over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which have close ties to Moscow and have been independently run since the early 1990s when fighting with Georgian troops ended.
"I do hope and encourage the UN, NATO, OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), and EU leadership collectively as well as EU and NATO member states individually to maintain a strong focus on the unilateral steps by the Russian Federation, previously seen as a 'facilitator' of the peace process in these conflicts," Adamkus said.
Vilnius considers the two regions to be integral parts of Georgia.
Russia's decision last week to establish legal ties with the two separatist regions prompted Georgia's Foreign Ministry to accuse Moscow of plotting to annex the regions.
The ministry called the Russian move "one more dangerous step aimed at the de facto annexation of an integral part of Georgia's territory."
Georgia, a former Soviet republic, has appealed to the "whole international community" to do everything in its power to stop Russia's "violation of Georgia's internationally recognized territorial integrity."