James Appathurai paid a final visit to Georgia as NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia. In Tbilisi, Appathurai met with Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, PM Irakli Garibashvili, Speaker Kakha Kuchava, and opposition representatives, with the Georgia-NATO Black Sea security cooperation being one of the major issues of discussion.
On July 2, President Salome Zurabishvili awarded Appathurai the Order of the Golden Fleece, reserved for Georgia’s international friends. She said Appathurai’s “work over the years helping us see a clear path on Euro-Atlantic integration means that James truly deserves this award.”
At the award receiving ceremony, Appathurai said over his decade-long service in this role, he witnessed that “Georgia has moved concretely, substantially towards NATO and NATO membership.” “I believe that Georgia’s home is with us, that you are part of our NATO family and we are part of yours.”
At the July 2 meeting with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, parties discussed the updated Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, NATO Military Committee’s upcoming visit to Georgia in September, and the Black Sea security cooperation, among others.
In the Georgian Parliament Appathurai met with Speaker Kakha Kuchava and both Georgian Dream and opposition lawmakers. Ahead of the meeting, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative told the Georgian press that the international community will be following closely political processes in Georgia and stressed the need for reduced political polarization, reforms envisaged by the April 19 EU-brokered deal, and well-functioning parliament and the government.