Appathurai: Before discussing MAP we must talk about arrests of former officials and 17 May events

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Before moving to the next stage in the relationship with NATO, Georgia must answer questions that have emerged regarding the arrests of former senior officials and the 17 May events, James Appathurai, the NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, told Tabula on 3 June.

James Appathurai arrived in Tbilisi for, as he said, two reasons: to inaugurate the NATO Week in Georgia to be held from 3 to 10 June, and to prepare the visit of the North Atlantic Council slated for late June.

To Tabula's question what Georgia should expect from NATO in 2014, considering that Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili declared recently that Georgia plans to receive the Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2014, Mr. Appathurai replied:

"First, we welcome that Prime Minister has set such an ambitious target. It is good that the whole parliament has agreed on the Euro-Atlantic integration. We have not yet decided when there will be a summit, I suspect that decision will be coming soon, and what the agenda will be. So I am convinced that now, and before you have presidential elections here in Georgia, time has not yet come to discuss the mechanics to start that whole diplomatic process; I think that's for later. What we need to do now, on one hand, is to make sure that the North Atlantic Council visit goes well, to make sure that reforms are proceeding and visible, to make sure that some of the concerns NATO has related to arrest of former officials and particularly, but not limited to, May 17th events [when a peaceful rally against homophobia was violently thwarted by Orthodox activists, including priests, and their congregations], that these concerns are addressed. Those are the things we can do now and then, at a certain stage later in the year, after the presidential elections, I think, this might be the time to look at what might happen at the summit."

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