Stoltenberg: Georgia among NATO's Closest Partners

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says that Georgia is one of the closest partners of the alliance, adding the country is also one of the largest contributors to global security.

Stoltengerg’s statement came after a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission, where defense ministers expressed concern about Russia’s military build-up in the Black Sea region and agreed to continue working together to address regional security challenges.

“We finished a productive meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission… Georgia is one of the largest contributors to our training mission in Afghanistan, helping to stabilize the country, and deny a safe haven to terrorists. Georgia also provides troops for the NATO Response Force,” Stoltenberg stated.

The Secretary-General noted that "NATO's door remains open” and that one day Georgia will become a member of the Alliance.

“We discussed how we can build on our cooperation. At our Summit in July, allied leaders reaffirmed that Georgia will join the Alliance. This is in line with our decision at the Bucharest Summit in 2008. NATO’s door remains open. Today, the allies also restated their full support for Georgia’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” he stated.

Stoltenberg called on Russia to end its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to withdraw its forces from these Georgian regions.

“We are also concerned by Russia’s military build-up in the Black Sea region. Black Sea security is a priority for NATO and for Georgia. We are working together here more closely than ever before, with training for Georgian Coast Guard teams; more cooperation between Georgian and NATO naval forces, and with cooperation between Georgia’s Joint Maritime Operations Center and the NATO’s Maritime Command,” he added.

The NATO Secretary-General also praised the reforms implemented by the Government of Georgia.

“The allies welcomed the continued progress Georgia is making on reforms in particular on more effective security and defense institutions and modernizing their armed forces. The Substantial NATO-Georgia Package is already bolstering the country’s defense reforms, including with our Joint Training and Evaluation Center. We encourage Georgia to continue along the path of reform,” he said.

Stoltenberg had a meeting with the Defense Minister of Georgia, Levan Izoria, who also participated in the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting.

The sides positively assessed the successful implementation of the initiatives undertaken by the essential package in the NATO-Georgia Practical Cooperation (SNGP).

The parties focused on the planned NATO-Georgia exercise which will see approximately 28 countries participating. According to Izoria, the training is exemplary in terms of ensuring security in the Black Sea region.

“The NATO Secretary General unequivocally pointed out the progress Georgia has made on the path of democratic development and especially for the purpose of bringing our capabilities to NATO standards," Izoria said after meeting with Stoltenberg.

By Thea Morrison

04 October 2018 19:36