The North Atlantic Council (NAC), the principal political decision-making body of NATO, led by Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller is visiting Georgia on October 3-4 upon the invitation of the Georgian authorities.
Today, Gottemoeller chaired the NATO–Georgia Commission meeting together with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia in Georgia’s coastal city of Batumi. Gottemoeller said in her opening remarks that their visit “is a clear demonstration of NATO’s ongoing commitment to Georgia.”
“It is also an occasion to celebrate five years of the Substantial NATO-Georgia package – the cornerstone of our support to the reform of Georgia’s security and defense sectors, and to Georgia’s preparations for NATO membership,” Gottemoeller stated.
Calling Georgia “one of NATO’s closest operational partners,” Gottemoeller said the alliance deeply appreciates country’s contribution “to Euro-Atlantic security.” “Last year, NATO Leaders reconfirmed their 2008 Bucharest Summit decision that Georgia will become a member of NATO,” she noted.
Gottemoeller then underscored that NATO calls on Russia “to withdraw its troops from Georgia’s occupied regions,” and to respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, within its internationally-recognized borders.
“This visit is an opportunity to deepen and strengthen our cooperation with Georgia even further and to ensure that the Black Sea remains a strong source of stability and security for all the region,” Gottemoeller concluded.
On his part, PM Gakharia said “the firm relations with NATO is the basis for Georgia’s foreign policy and its security.” He said it is symbolic that the meeting is being held in Batumi. “We all understand well that a secure Black Sea is the warrant of secure Euro-Atlantic space,” Gakharia stated.
Gakharia noted that since the annexation of Crimea, Russia strengthened its positions in the Black Sea region. Therefore, he said, NATO’s representation there is “critically important.” According to Gakharia, despite the fact that Georgia has gone through a lot of difficulties since it first applied for NATO membership in 2002, “it has had a huge progress.”
Gakharia also noted that as NATO celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, it should again confirm its “oped door policy.” “The open door policy has again proved throughout years that it is the warrant of security in many regions, and of course it gives hope to such small nations, like Georgia,” the Georgian PM stated.
Today, Gottemoeller and Gakharia held a separate meeting as well as a joint press conference. In her press remarks, the NATO Deputy Secretary General said that allies welcome Georgia’s “significant progress on reforms.” “You have strengthened your defense institutions, modernized your armed forces, and made clear progress on defense spending,” she stated.
Encouraging the country “to continue on this path and push ahead with necessary reforms beyond the area of defense,” Gottemoeller noted that “it is equally important to strengthen the rule of law and implement further judiciary reform.”
NATO-Georgia Commission Statement
Following today’s meeting, the NATO-Georgia Commission released a statement, saying that “Allies welcome the substantial progress on reforms in Georgia over the past decade in consolidating its democracy and achieving stronger economic development, more effective defense institutions, and modernized defense forces.”
“NATO and Georgia are ready to further enhance this cooperation. Building on the success of the last five years, Allies have agreed that NATO and Georgia should conduct a refresh of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP), to be delivered during 2020, to update and improve the package,” the statement reads.
Emphasizing that “Georgia reaffirms its determination to achieve NATO membership, one of its top foreign and security policy priorities,” the statement further reads that “Allies reiterate their 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.”