On September 29-30, Giorgi Gakharia is paying his first working visit to Brussels as the Prime Minister, which also marks his first foreign visit since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday morning, Georgian PM held a meeting with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, discussing Georgia’s progress on its NATO integration path and future cooperation plans.
During the joint press conference after the meeting, NATO Secretary-General highlighted that Georgia is one of NATO’s most important partners, contributing to the Alliance’s shared security in many ways, including with troops in NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan.
Speaking about NATO’s close cooperation with Georgia on Black Sea security, NATO Secretary-General said that Allies agreed to share more air traffic radar data, working jointly to address hybrid threats, as well as doing joint exercises in the Black Sea region. “Recently we have focused on the Black Sea region, maritime capabilities, working together with our Maritime Command in United Kingdom and some support for [Georgia’s] Coast Guard, port visits by NATO ships,” Secretary-General added.
The Secretary-General stated that “NATO supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders. We call on Russia to end its recognition of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to withdraw its forces.”
NATO Secretary-General recalled the importance of holding Georgia’s October 31 general election in a democratic manner.
“And I encourage you to continue making full use of all the opportunities for coming closer to NATO. And to prepare for membership. We count on Georgia to ensure next month’s elections meet the highest international standards. This is important for Georgia, and for NATO”, he said.
Stoltenberg also underscored the importance of Georgia’s continued reforms in the judiciary system and commended Georgia’s progress in implementing reforms aimed at “strengthening democratic oversight on intelligence, security services and armed forces.” He noted that Georgia made good progress in modernizing the armed forces and in strengthening democracy.
On its part, PM Gakharia highlighted Georgia’s readiness for continued reforms in “multiple directions.” The Georgian Prime Minister noted that “it was important to find out the new role of Georgia for the Black Sea Region.”
Stating the importance of the Alliance’s continued open-door policy, the Georgian Prime Minister underscored keeping the “political dimension” of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP). PM Gakharia then pledged Georgia’s commitment to continue participation in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission.
In the Belgian capital, PM Gakharia is accompanied by Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani and Head of Government Administration Natia Mezvrishvili. During the two-day working visit, Gakharia will also meet with the President of European Council Charles Michel, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, EP President David Maria Sassoli and EU High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles, as well as with MEPs and other European Commissioners.