Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg agreed on July 12 that the former Soviet republic in the South Caucasus will eventually become a member of the alliance.

“The people of Georgia do deserve a fast track to the NATO Alliance,” Margvelashvili said on the second day of the alliance’s summit in Brussels.

Stoltenberg confirmed but did not deviate from previous statements that NATO fully supported Tbilisi’s plan to join the alliance.

“Georgia will become a member of NATO”, while sating the 29-nation alliance supports Tbilisi’s territorial integrity, including its sovereignty over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. For over a decade, successive Georgian governments have expressed hope that the tiny nation of 3.5 million people would one day join NATO.

The Kremlin recognised Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries after fighting a five-day war against Tbilisi in 2008, only weeks after Georgian first requested a membership action plan (MAP) from the alliance.

Russia continues to base thousands of combat troops in the two occupied regions.

We reiterate the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Georgia will become a member of the Alliance, with MAP as an integral part of the process; we reaffirm all elements of that decision, as well as subsequent decisions.  We welcome the significant progress realised since 2008.  We welcome the central role played by the NATO-Georgia Commission and the Annual National Programme over the past decade in deepening political dialogue and cooperation between NATO and Georgia, the Brussels Summit Declaration reads.

In May, then-Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said he was hoping that Georgia would become a NATO member by 2021. In response, a NATO official said Tbilisi would join the alliance after meeting all of the necessary requirements, stressing that the members of the alliance should first reach a consensus on a Membership Action Plan for the country.