• Germany's news in English

Merkel backs Georgia's NATO bid

The Local · 17 Aug 2008, 20:30

Published: 17 Aug 2008 20:30 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"Georgia will become a member of NATO if it wants to - and it does want to," she said in a strong statement of support for Georgia's intention to join NATO, which is fiercely opposed by Russia.

Merkel was in Tbilisi to support Saakashvili and press for the withdrawal of Russian troops who attacked Georgia on April 8 to repulse an offensive by Georgian troops against a Moscow-backed separatist region. Russian troops remained deployed in the north and west of the country, including units within half an hour's drive of Tbilisi.

"The withdrawal of Russian troops is now of upmost importance," Merkel said after meeting Saakashvili.

Russia says that regular forces will begin withdrawing Monday but that an unspecified number of Russian peacekeepers will remain. Moscow is furious at Georgia's attempt to join NATO. The Western military alliance is divided over how fast to accept Georgia, but has indicated that

membership is a matter of when, not if.

Merkel's unambiguous backing of Georgia's NATO ambitions is a turnaround from her scepticism four months ago, when Germany and other European countries torpedoed Tbilisi's hopes of joining the alliance any time soon for fear of provoking Russia.

Merkel met Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Friday, criticizing Moscow's actions during the week-long war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

She reportedly wanted to give Saakashvili something of a dressing down too, for wrongly second-guessing Russia’s reaction to his sending troops into the area, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. At the same time though, she is keen for her visit to Tbilisi to be seen as a gesture of support for Saakashvili, who the German government recognizes as legitimately and democratically elected.

And German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned on Sunday against any knee-jerk reaction to the Caucasus conflict in relations with Russia.

Story continues below…

"I do not advise ... any knee-jerk reaction such as suspending talks on a partnership and cooperation agreement (with the European Union). That would signify that such an agreement is more important to the EU than to Russia," Steinmeier said in an interview with weekly Welt am Sonntag.

"Or Russia joining the World Trade Organization (WTO): our interest in this is as great as Russia itself. Talks in the NATO-Russian Council are essential too. Because we need open lines of communication - to Tbilisi and to Moscow," Steinmeier told the paper.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Munich to get 'nice toilets' to serve cross-legged locals
Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital has a pee problem - the city only has one public toilet for every 13,000 inhabitants. But a new plan could rescue desperate locals, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

German kids get glowing report for their English skills
Photo: DPA.

As if multilingual Germans don't already put many English-speakers to shame, now the younger generation is improving their English skills even more.

Berlin museum controversially recreates Hitler bunker
The reconstruction of the Hitler bunker. Photo: DPA

Sensationalized or compelling history? Berlin museums clash over new Nazi bunker exhibit

Germans think they're fit, but they're really couch potatoes
Photo: DPA.

There's been an increase in the number of Germans who define themselves as "fit", but their lifestyle choices don't quite match this self-perception.

10 fascinating facts you never knew about German beer
Tennis coach Boris Becker and his wife Lilly at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich. Photo: DPA

From malt and monks to Radlers and rivalries, the story of German beer is as rich and wonderful as its selection.

Intensive farming 'endangers a third of German species'
Photo: DPA

There are 32,000 species of animal, plant and mushroom life native to Germany. Due to intensive farming methods, one in every three of these is endangered, a new report shows.

German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd