U.S. and Georgia-led fifth multinational military exercise Noble Partner 2020 with over 2,700 participant military personnel from Georgia, the U.S., the UK, Poland and France was wrapped up at the Vaziani Military Base near the Georgian capital Tbilisi on September 18. The drills took place between September 7-18 at the Vaziani Military Airfield, the Vaziani Range, and the Norio Training Base.
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze, Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili, and U.S Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan, among others, attended the closing ceremony.
Addressing the military personnel, President Salome Zurabishvili declared that Georgia aims to “establish a modern, capable, NATO-compatible defense force,” which will contribute to “reinforcing stability and security in the Black Sea region.”
President Zurabishvili underlined the strategic importance of nurturing military cooperation with partner nations, and asserted that “Georgia is stronger and more secure due to close cooperation with its partners.”
Recollecting the long history of cooperation between NATO and Georgia, Georgian President emphasized the country’s active participation in international peace missions, and affirmed that “membership of the Alliance (NATO) is our firm objective.”
“Georgian military personnel have proven over and over again that Georgia is a reliable friend and an honorable partner in overcoming regional and global challenges,” the President underscored.
President Zurabishvili also called attention to U.S-Georgian relations and declared that developing strategic cooperation with the U.S is “the most important priority” for Georgia.
Speaker Archil Talakvadze stated that “Georgia meets all of the basic requirements”, and that the country is “strategically prepared to become a NATO member.” He said “Georgia’s defense forces are a reliable pillar for the country’s path towards Euro-Atlantic integration.”
“With multinational exercises and constant readiness we protect the peace, improve interoperability, and maintain a secure environment in the region,” Speaker Talakvadze went on, adding that the drills represent “yet another supporting measure by our Western partners to a peaceful, robust, and free Georgia.”
According to the Speaker, “our dream to end Russian occupation in the country”, can only be realized through “effective domestic and foreign policy, the development of defense capabilities, cooperation with strategic partners, and from consolidating democracy.”
The Parliament Chairperson thanked the U.S and partner nations for “firm support in the task of enhancing Georgia’s defensive capabilities”, and pledged to conduct the October Parliamentary Elections under “fair and transparent” conditions. “During the elections, we will once again prove Georgia is committed to democratic values and that the country is justly deserving of becoming a full-fledged member of the European and Euro-Atlantic community,” the Speaker highlighted.
Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili underscored the strategic cooperation between the U.S and Georgia and cited the Noble Partner 2020, and the Agile Spirit military exercise planned to take place next year, as events confirming a mutual commitment to close cooperation.
Garibashvili also spoke of the planned 2020 NATO-Georgia joint military exercise, and stated that the drills “reaffirms our exemplary cooperation with NATO.” “Strength is in partnership,” Defense Minister asserted.
On her part, U.S. Ambassador Kelly C. Degnan remarked in her address that “the exercise is not just about developing interoperability of our forces, it is also about sending a clear message about the ability to organize an exercise despite the pandemic and sends a clear message of deterrence to any aggressors.”