NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, who leads the North Atlantic Council (NAC) delegation to Georgia on October 3-4, discussed “how to enhance NATO-Georgia cooperation” with members of the Georgian Parliament in Batumi today.
In her opening remarks at the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting with Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze and other legislators from the ruling party and opposition, Gottemoeller said that “NATO provides both practical and political support to Georgia’s ongoing domestic and defense sector reforms.”
“There has been substantial progress in terms of strengthening democracy, boosting economic growth, and modernizing your defense forces and institutions, but the pace and progress of reform must continue – to strengthen Georgia’s resilience, ability to work alongside NATO Allies, and to prepare, importantly, for NATO membership,” she stated.
According to Gottemoeller, “this will require courage and conviction, a whole of society approach, and for parliamentarians on both sides of the aisle to work together.” “Representing all Georgian people, parliamentarians play an important role in Georgia’s aspirations and efforts, and in ensuring that Georgia remains a leader in the region in terms of reforms,” she noted.
On his part, Speaker Talakvadze, said Georgia is “a reliable and responsible partner” for NATO and the West “in this difficult region.” He said, Georgia “remains committed to democratic principles” and “strengthens its democratic institutions.”
According to Talakvadze, Georgia “is proud to be” one of the largest non-NATO contributors to the international missions, and that Georgian soldiers are protecting peace, freedom and shared values shoulder-by-shoulder with NATO soldiers.
In his remarks, Talakvadze also spoke of occupation of 20% of Georgian territories as a challenge. “This is not a frozen conflict. This is not a problem that has already taken place [that belongs to the past]. This is a challenge, which exists even today, and continues in its worse form,” Talakvadze stated.
He then added that despite this challenge, it is Georgia that defines its own future. “The Russian Federation cannot define the future of Georgia and we are confident that together with our partners, together with the west, Georgia is creating its future, and is creating the moment when the restoration of our territorial integrity will be possible in a peaceful manner,” he stated.
Today, Gottemoeller and NATO Permanent Representatives met with President Salome Zurabishvili as well. Earlier the Deputy Secretary General visited Georgian Coast Guard vessels in Batumi together with Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri. As part of her visit, she also held meetings with Foreign and Defense Ministers, Davit Zalkaliani and Irakli Garibashvili, respectively.