NATO Secretary General praises Georgia's contributions to Euro-Atlantic security, inaugurates new Training Centre
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised Georgia’s strong commitment to the Alliance and inaugurated a new Training Centre during his first visit to Tbilisi on Thursday (27 August 2015).
At a joint press conference with President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Mr. Stoltenberg described Georgia as “a strong and reliable contributor to our shared security”. He thanked Georgia for its commitment to its relationship with the Alliance – “a relationship that is getting closer and deeper” – and for being the second largest contributor to NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
Welcoming Georgia’s impressive democratic reforms, Mr. Stoltenberg called the country “an example in the region and beyond”, saying its efforts demonstrate “commitment to being part of the Euro-Atlantic family” and help Georgia prepare for NATO membership. He said he looked forward to continued progress, saying “Euro-Atlantic integration is not an easy road; it takes time, determined efforts and real change.” He stressed, “NATO will continue to stand by Georgia.”
The Secretary General also condemned Russia’s ongoing interference in Georgia, saying “Russia’s latest actions to move the administrative boundary line of the South Ossetia region of Georgia are yet another breach of Russia’s international commitments.” He stressed that NATO Allies remain “fully committed” to Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
Together with President Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili and Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli, the Secretary General opened the new NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre at the Krtsanisi Military Facility, where Georgian troops will train alongside Allies and partners. Calling the inauguration “an important moment step forward”, Mr. Stoltenberg stressed “it is not directed against anybody; on the contrary, the centre will be important to improve regional and international stability.” He noted that “Georgian forces will grow more interoperable with NATO. NATO will be more present, and more visible in Georgia. And Georgia’s commitment to international peace and security will grow even more.”
“There is more Georgia in NATO and more NATO in Georgia,” he said. “And all these efforts help Georgia move closer to your aspiration of NATO membership”.
The Training Centre is part of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, agreed at the Wales Summit last year to help Georgia in its aspirations to NATO membership. NATO-Georgia cooperation over many years has strengthened Georgia’s forces, allowing them to work with Allies more closely than ever before.
The Secretary General also held talks with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili, Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli, the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, David Usupashvili, and other parliamentary leaders. Earlier on Thursday, the Secretary General laid a wreath at the Memorial of Heroes Square.