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“NATO Expects Georgia to Uphold Democratic Standards,” Stoltenberg Tells Georgian PM

“NATO expects Georgia to uphold the democratic standards that it has worked so hard to develop in the recent years,” stressed Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a joint press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, held after the two met in Brussels on March 17.

Secretary General Stoltenberg said Georgia shall resolve the political differences through dialogue, avoiding divisive rhetoric and actions. “Prime Minister, I encourage you to work with the opposition to find common ground and common solutions,” he underscored.

The NATO Secretary General said member states have over the years assisted Georgia’s reforms, which is “also the reason why the allies are concerned when they have seen some of the recent developments in Georgia, including the detention of the head of the major opposition party [Nika Melia].”

Speaking of the NATO-Georgia partnership, the Secretary General said with PM Garibashvili they discussed how to build on the cooperation, including with the updated Substantial NATO-Georgia Package.

He noted that Black Sea security is a priority for Georgia and NATO, especially in light of Russia’s continued military build-up in the region through Crimea. “We are working to strengthen our presence,” said Secretary General Stoltenberg.

PM Garibashvili, on his part, welcomed NATO’s increased presence in the region, asserting that “European security cannot be complete without stable and secure the Black Sea.”

The Prime Minister noted that Georgia has “all the practical tools” to prepare for the membership of the alliance, having proven its ability as well to “share the burden of collective defense through participation in NATO-led operations.”

Prime Minister Garibashvili highlighted the country has spared “no efforts” to stand by NATO values and to carry out a reform agenda to move forward on its integration process. “We do believe that time has come to move forward on Georgia’s aspirations,” he said.

PM Garibashvili, on a visit to Brussels on March 15-17, will participate in the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting later today.

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