The North Atlantic Council, representing the permanent members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, met in special Ministerial session this week and expressed its grave concern over the crisis in Georgia. The Ministers also conferred with the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Alexander Stubb on issues relating to the crisis.
In a statement issued at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, August 19th, the North Atlantic Council welcomed the agreement signed by Georgia and Russia to end the hostilities and to bring about a political solution to the conflict. "We stand fully behind these efforts," the Allied Foreign Ministers said. The Council stressed the urgency of swift, complete, and good faith implementation of the agreement, including a new international mechanism to monitor respect for the engagements. "Military action must cease definitively and military forces must return to the positions, held prior to the outbreak of hostilities," the Council said.
The Allied Foreign Ministers also expressed grave concern over the humanitarian situation in Georgia. The Ministers noted that, "allied governments are working together, and in concert with international organizations and others in the international community, to ensure that the civilian populations affected by the conflict have the assistance they need to meet immediate and ongoing humanitarian needs." The Council called on all parties, in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law, "to ensure access for international humanitarian relief efforts to all affected populations."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "the declaration clearly shows that NATO intends to support the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Georgia, and to support its democratically elected government." The Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed the Bucharest commitment to Georgia's membership aspirations and made it clear, said Secretary Rice, "that NATO has an open-door policy to all European democracies that qualify for its membership."
Secretary of State Rice noted that neither the U.S., nor its NATO allies, want to isolate Russia. By its behavior, Russia is isolating itself, she said. It is now up to Russia's leaders to take appropriate action to end that isolation.