The Deputy Secretary General used his two-day visit to discuss the outcomes of the May Chicago Summit with senior government officials including Vice Prime Minister and Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Giorgi Baramidze, National Security Advisor Giorgi Bokeria, Minister of Defence Bachana Akhalaia, and Vano Merabishvili, the Minister of Internal Affairs. Ambassador Vershbow also met David Bakradze, Chairman of the Parliament and representatives of opposition parties.
In discussions, the Deputy Secretary General focused on the main outcomes of the Chicago Summit concerning Afghanistan, defence capabilities and partnerships. He also highlighted the importance of the summit for Georgia and its relations with NATO.
Georgia took part in three important meetings involving partners in Chicago. The Georgian president joined his counterparts from the 28 Allies and 22 partner countries from around the globe that are supporting the NATO-led stabilisation mission in Afghanistan. He also participated in a meeting of the 28 Allies with 13 partner countries. Talks centred on how to ensure a smooth transition to Afghan lead for security throughout Afghanistan by end 2014, and on how best to support Afghanistan and its people beyond this point.
The Ambassador praised Georgia’s contribution to the ISAF mission during his visit and in a speech given at the Georgia Defence and Security Conference in Batumi. The country will become the largest non-NATO contributor to the mission in the autumn.
“Georgia has been a key part of this unique, common endeavour, now the second largest contributing partner to ISAF,” Ambassador Vershbow said. “That says a lot about the strong commitment of this country to help build security well beyond its own borders.”
The Deputy Secretary General said that NATO leaders at Chicago reaffirmed that the Alliance’s door would remain open to those wanting to join, including Georgia. "At our NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008, the Allies decided that Georgia will become a member of NATO. The Chicago Summit made clear that Allies stand by that decision and recognised the progress Georgia has made in meeting NATO’s standards,” the Ambassador said.
He added however, that more reforms were still needed. “There is still plenty of work to be done,” the Deputy Secretary General said. He pointed to the need to implement more democratic reforms to “strengthen the capacity and effectiveness” of Georgia’s political institutions. The Ambassador also called for reforms to improve the interoperability of Georgia’s military forces with those from NATO. “This will be one of the keys to Georgia’s success in realising its membership aspirations,” he said. “And so we expect the parliamentary elections this year and the Presidential elections next year to be free, fair and inclusive.”
The Ambassador stressed that NATO will stand by Georgia as it continues its reform process, including the “full support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.”