"Keep Georgia on Your Mind": MFA Zalkaliani at the NATO Summit 2019

The United Kingdom hosted NATO Heads of State and Government in London on 3-4 December. David Zalkaliani, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, made a speech during a session dedicated to safety in the territories of the Baltic and Black seas.

While highlighting the importance and challenges to stability in the Black Sea region, Zalkaliani underlined Russia’s destructive policies and the outcomes of occupation, spotlighting the Vazha Gaprindashvili case as a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

“The human rights and security situation on the ground remains extremely difficult. People are being persecuted and illegally detained. Renowned Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili remains in illegal custody. We have already consolidated the international community over this fact and continue to do so. We are faced with a humanitarian catastrophe,” Minister Zalkaliani said.

Speaking about Georgia’s integration with NATO, the Minister underscored that Georgia’s integration with NATO is aimed at ensuring the country’s security and its democratic development, rather than being directed against any third party. He told the high-ranking attendees of the NATO Summit that Georgia is a successful aspirant country with all practical instruments for membership and is actively moving ahead towards the time when a political decision on its membership is taken.

“The Bucharest Summit decision clearly indicated that Georgia will become a member of NATO. All documents and declarations adopted following the Bucharest Summit reaffirm support for Georgia’s membership of NATO. We are fully aware of the existing situation and the fact that a political decision has not yet been taken. However, we are effectively implementing all practical instruments that lead us to membership. Georgia is already acting as an ally. We are doing our utmost to bring the country to the moment when it is ready for membership. Georgia’s contribution to NATO needs to be reciprocated by NATO,” Zalkaliani said, adding that Georgia is closely working with all partners and is taking active steps to prepare the country for its ultimate membership.

The Minister ended his speech with a musical reference: “Keep Georgia on your mind,” Zalkaliani urged the attendees of the summit, connecting the country to Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell’s 1930 hit song. The closing of his remarks was greeted with applause.

December 4 marked the second of the NATO 2019 Summits in London, the highlight of which, for Georgia, was Minister Zalkaliani’s meeting with UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, Christopher Pincher.

The parties welcomed the Georgian Foreign Minister’s visit to London and his participation in high-level events on the sidelines of the NATO Leaders Meeting in London.

The FCO Minister of State reaffirmed the UK’s firm support for Georgia, describing the country as a successful aspirant and a valuable, reliable partner for NATO. The parties highlighted the importance of the Strategic Cooperation Agreement between Georgia and Great Britain, which will be put to work following Brexit. The agreement is yet another indication that Georgia remains an important partner for the UK.

Zalkaliani briefed the UK Minister of State on the recent developments in Georgia’s occupied regions, highlighting the illegal detention of Vazha Gaprindashvili. He made sure to underline that the international partners must keep raising the issue of the occupation of the Georgian territories and the dire humanitarian situation on the ground in all formats of their relations with the Russian Federation.

Congratulating Georgia on the CoE Presidency, Christopher Pincher highly appraised Georgia’s priorities and wished the country success in its capacity as Chair of the international organization.

The leaders of 29 countries gathered in London at the NATO summit on December 3-4, marking the organization’s 70th anniversary. The high-ranking attendees included the Presidents of the USA, Turkey, the Prime Ministers of the UK and Canada.

By Nini Dakhundaridze

Image source: MFA Georgia

05 December 2019 16:14