President Salome Zurabishvili, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, and Parliamentary Speaker Shalva Papuashvili have addressed Georgian and foreign military personnel, diplomats gathered at an event to mark the ongoing NATO-Georgia Exercise 2022.
President Salome Zurabishvili
In the speech at the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center, President Zurabishvili stressed that “in this most difficult time, it especially important to continuously develop Georgia’s defense capabilities, strengthen its resilience and increase its interoperability with NATO standards.”
“In the light of the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine, the international community agrees that European peace and security face unprecedented challenges,” she stated.
Noting that 20 NATO member and partner countries participated in the exercise that gathered more than 560 personnel, she said “this in itself is an answer to Russia’s repeated threats.”
The President also took notice that in 2019, at the second NATO-Georgia Exercise, Georgia became the first non-member state allowed to manage and lead a NATO joint exercise.
“This is another expression and recognition of the trustworthy and reliable partnership Georgia has repeatedly affirmed” to the Alliance, President Zurabishvili said.
She also argued it was of critical importance for Georgia to develop its cybersecurity and strategic communication – the main areas of the exercise – to overcome existing global challenges.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili underlined the importance of the joint exercise in strengthening the readiness of Georgia’s Defense Forces, improving its governance, and increasing interoperability with the Alliance.
“Over the years, we, along with many of our partners, have supported and advocated for world peace,” PM Garibashvili said. “Such exercises are not only an excellent means of sharing knowledge and experience in this area but also strengthen our coordination and promote security and stability.”
He also stressed that Georgia’s leadership in organizing the exercise proved “the high qualification and professionalism of our army and, in this case, its command.”
“I want to say proudly that today our army is stronger and more interoperable with NATO than ever before,” the Prime Minister asserted.
He went on to highlight that Georgia is linked with its partners and NATO with values, adding that “we have proven this many times with our democratic reforms and contributions to global security.”
Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili
“Given the changing geopolitical situation, continuing joint Georgian-NATO military exercises sends a powerful message of unity and reaffirms that NATO continues to support its partners’ national ambitions,” Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili said.
In his speech, the Speaker focused on Georgia’s participation in international missions, noting that “80% of the Georgian Defense Forces have served with dignity in the NATO and EU missions.”
He recalled that in Iraq and Afghanistan, “35 of our heroic soldiers sacrificed their lives to defend common goals and values, and more than 300 others received bodily injuries.”
The Parliament Speaker added that “all questions regarding [the Georgian forces’] professionalism and readiness, as well as about their compatibility with NATO standards, have been removed,”
“Georgia has repeatedly proven to be a trusted and experienced NATO partner capable of making a valuable contribution to global peace and security,” he stressed.
About the exercise
Georgia is hosting for the third time the joint computer-assisted, command post drills with NATO and its partners. Held once every three years, the first ever NATO-Georgia exercise took place in 2016, followed by one in 2019.
The exercise, organized within the scope of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP), aims to enhance Georgia’s interoperability with the Alliance.
The drills are set to wrap up on March 25, as said by the Georgian President.