Appathurai Speaks of “More NATO in Georgia” Next Year

NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai stated the Alliance is looking forward to even more NATO in Georgia and more Georgia in NATO next year.

Appathurai made the statement at the meeting with the Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, during his official visit to Georgia.

“Next year, we will see more NATO in Georgia; we should have a lot of high-level visits - more than this year, so that we really show the Georgian people that this cooperation is paying off and that NATO is committed,” Appathurai said.

He noted that he and Bakhtadze mainly talked about the steady reforms and steady progress in Georgia's way towards NATO.

“We discussed concrete ways in terms of more cooperation on Black Sea security, more support for reforms in Georgia, which is happening well, and practical cooperation on operations,” he added.

Appathurai congratulated Bakhtadze on completion of the presidential elections, but also expressed some concerns about the polarization of the political dialogue.

“What we want in NATO is an inclusive political process in Georgia,” the NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General said.

PM Bakhtadze assured Appathurai that the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspiration is a high-level priority of the government, which is eagerly supported by the Georgian people. It was highlighted that 2018 was particularly successful within the scope of NATO-Georgia interaction and the progress achieved in recent years is particularly noteworthy.

The NATO official also held a meeting with Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, stating after the meeting that the aim of his arrival is the preservation of the positive political dynamic between Georgia and the EU and to summarize the recent NATO ministerial.

“I believe that the Georgian people will see more NATO in Georgia next year. Of course, we should work for concrete outcomes. For instance, the implementation of effective reforms and strengthening of democratic processes,” Appathurai said after the meeting.

The NATO Secretary General's Special Representative told the media that the Alliance thinks Russia has not changed its aggressive behavior.

“The incident in the Black Sea between Russia and Ukraine is proof of this. Alliance members recognize that in terms of Russia, we are facing a real challenge and this situation is not improving. That is why we are strengthening NATO's collective defense and assisting our partners, including Georgia and Ukraine, in this region,” he said, adding that NATO wants a good relationship with Russia only if it “respects international law and its neighbors.”

Appathurai also met Georgia’s President-Elect Salome Zurabishvili and the second presidential candidate in the runoff, Grigol Vashadze.

The official expressed NATO’s continued support to Georgia and its territorial integrity.

“I saw Salome Zurabishvili's editorial several days ago, where she made it very clear that her intention was to carry out the will of the Georgian people: Euro-Atlantic integration. This is a clear and strong message,” he said.

In relation to Vashadze, Appathurai said all parties should respect each other.

“The political message I want to voice during my meeting with Grigol Vashadze is that elections always divide parties and raise the political temperature. However, now it is time for unity and all political parties should show respect to one another,” he stated.

During his visit to Georgia on December 12, Appathurai also met Georgia’s Defense Minister, Levan Izoria.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: PM’s Press Office

13 December 2018 20:02