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‘Conflict doesn’t affect Georgia’s NATO membership prospect’

By Xinhua,

Brussels : The conflict in South Ossetia does not change Georgia’s NATO membership prospects, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said.

“I think that the Bucharest communique and the Bucharest declaration stand,” de Hoop Scheffer told reporters Tuesday after chairing a meeting of NATO’s decision-making North Atlantic Council on the situation in South Ossetia.

“That was the situation and that is the situation and that situation has not changed,” he added.

NATO leaders, during the Bucharest summit in April, pledged ultimate membership for the Caucasus nation without a specific timetable, together with Ukraine.

The NATO chief, however, sidestepped a question on the possibility of bringing conflicts into NATO by allowing Georgia to join the alliance. He insisted that allies still stick to the Bucharest declaration.

NATO will discuss again Georgia and Ukraine’s bids for NATO’s membership action plan in December. Their bids were rejected in April by Germany and France, a move analysts attributed largely to Russia’s strong opposition.

Georgia’s war with Russia would no doubt raise concern among NATO’s European allies when the issue returns in December, analysts say.

Meanwhile, NATO condemned the “excessive, disproportionate” use of force by Russia in South Ossetia.

NATO also insisted that a ceasefire is not enough. Troops from all parties must return to their positions before the conflict began Aug 7, he said.