Joint press point
by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili of Georgia
Prime Minister, I am pleased to welcome you to NATO Headquarters.
Georgia is one of our most committed partners. And Georgia plays an outstanding role in our operations.
The Wales Summit marked an important milestone in our relations. We agreed a Substantial package of measures that will strengthen your country’s defence capabilities, and help Georgia move closer to membership. We also invited Georgia to join our initiative to enhance interoperability with partners who make significant contributions to the Alliance.
Today we discussed how to translate these initiatives in actions. NATO will support defence capacity building in Georgia through embedded trainers. And we are pleased that Georgia will host a new NATO-Georgia Training Centre. The centre will help Georgian forces maintain their ability to work with NATO. And it will prepare Georgia and other partners for future contributions to the NATO Response Force.
Prime Minister, Georgia has made great progress in recent years. And we will support you as you continue to take forward democratic reforms. That includes further strengthening the rule of law, including the independence of the judiciary.
The Georgian people has made clear it clear that they want Euro-Atlantic integration. And Georgia has moved closer to NATO in recent years.
We stand by the decision we took at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008.
Georgia will be a member of NATO, provided it fulfils the necessary criteria. And we will continue to assist you in on this path.
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): We'll start with the Georgian Public Broadcaster.
Q: Hum, Georgian Public Broadcaster, Kativa Kardeva(?). Mister Secretary General, after this meeting with the Prime Minister of Georgia, do you have any concerns, questions and doubts about the commitment of Georgia to a reintegration. And the second part of my question: It's very important for us, the implementation package which we received in Wales. But at the same time, we hear from Russia statements that they are against NATO enlargement and opening the NATO training centre in Georgia. So can their opposition and also their statement make some influence on the implementation process?
And the Prime Minister of Georgia, I have a question. Have you received the reassurance from NATO that Georgian partners will do everything to influence on Russia not to sign a new agreement with Abkhazia. Thank you very much!
JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): First of all, I would like to underline that the Prime Minister strongly underlined in the talks we had that Georgia is continuing on its path towards more Euro-Atlantic integration.
And I very much welcome that commitment. It is a strong commitment. And it is an important commitment. Because it's also in line with the decision we took at the NATO Summit in 2008. I was present there when I was prime minister, where we decided that Georgia will become member of NATO.
And, therefore, of course, I also strongly welcome the strong commitment of continued Euro-Atlantic integration by the prime minister in our meeting before this press conference.
We are going to continue to implement... or we are going to implement a package we agreed on in Wales, which is a package that will strengthen the defence capabilities of Georgia. It's about training. It's about exercises. It's about establishing the Joint Georgian NATO Exercise Training Centre.
And we do that because we respect the sovereignty of Georgia. And it's a relationship between NATO and Georgia how we develop our cooperation, whether we establish this kind or other kind of cooperation, something we decide together. And we have decided to establish a training centre is going to be established; because Georgia is a sovereign nation. NATO is an organization that works together with a strong and committed partner in Georgia.
IRAKLI GARIBASHVILI (Prime Minister of Georgia): Thank you, well thanks for the question. I assured our concerns with the Secretary General. And I informed him about the recent developments in the occupied region of Abkhazia. I look forward to working closely with the Secretary General and continue to work with the international partners; with the international community. Of course, we have a strong support from NATO, from the European Union, from the international community. And hopefully, of course, we'll have a strong support from our friends and partners. Thank you.
OANA LUNGESCU: Rustavi 2.
Q: Rustavi 2, my colleague already asked you. But I want to ask once again and to be more concretive. The Secretary General, your impressions after the meeting with Prime Minister: Is still questions about our Euro-Atlantic integration course is actual? And second question is when and in what environment can be released the decision made during the Wales Summit about the opening of the NATO Centre? You also told about this; but more concretive if it's possible.
JENS STOLTENBERG: So as I said, the Prime Minister is very strong, very clear that Georgia is going to continue its Euro-Atlantic integration. And I welcome that strong commitment. And that's important for Georgia. And it's important for the strong partnership between Georgia and NATO.
I also welcome the very substantial contributions Georgia already have provided to NATO by participating, for instance, in the ISAF operation in Afghanistan. So I have no reason to doubt that this is a strong commitment made by the Prime Minister; but also made by the people of Georgia. And therefore, the broad support in Georgia for the Euro-Atlantic integration is so important; because it has this very strong political support from the broad spectrum of political parties in Georgia. And I welcome that.
The training centre... We're going to establish the training centre. And our plan is to start the implementation of the different elements of the package by our ministerial meeting in February. And then, we will also be able to tell more in details about the different elements of the package at the ministerial... NATO ministerial meeting in February.
OANA LUNGESCU: One last very good question: NPR.
Q: Hum! Hi, Teri Schultz with National Public Radio and CBS to both men. Mister Prime Minister, you've now got a lot of turmoil taking place at home. How do you plan to resolve that? And when you look at what's happening in Ukraine, does it give you pause? I know the Georgians have asked in their own way: "Does it give you pause about your Euro-Atlantic integration?" You've seen what's happening in Kiev.
And Mister Secretary General sort of our standard question. You see continued bold efforts by Russia to... in their show of force in NATO airspace more or less. Do you think that if the European Union, for example, tightened the economic sanctions today, which it doesn't look like they're going to, would that change Russia's calculus at all? What is going to change it? Thank you! I know you have to give brief answers, thanks.
IRAKLI GARIBASHVILI: Well, thank you for your question. Regarding the turmoil... there isn't a turmoil in my country. Of course, we're concerned about this... thee decision that Moscow is going to sign the new treaty with occupied region in Abkhazia. But we are going to stay in touch with our partners and friends. But let me, once again, remind you that we experienced this conflict in 2008. And I think what we are facing right now in Ukraine is the continuation of our war in 2008. And therefore, you know, we have experienced it already. But we keep... you know we keep moving... we keep... We're on the same... on a wide track. And we're going to continue.
JENS STOLTENBERG: So... relate... concerning the increased Russian air activity... military air activity around NATO's border or in the airspace surrounding NATO, I would just confirm that we have seen increased Russian activity. And NATO is doing what we are supposed to do. We have intercepted the Russian planes. We have intercepted more than 100 time so far this year. That's three times as much as last year. And we stay vigilant. We stay prepared. And we have also increased air policing in the Eastern part of the Alliance. So we do what we are supposed to do. We are intercepting planes when they are approaching NATO air space.
When it comes to the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union, I welcome the sanctions. But then I will not now speculate on what the European Union will do in a meeting they'll have tonight or today. But sanctions are important, partly because I think that it's part of.... it makes it very clear that it's not... it has a consequence... it has a cost to behave in the way Russia is behaving. And it's... and it has to be reactions. And the sanction is posing a cost on Russia so long they behave in the way they do.
OANA LUNGESCU: Thank you very much. That's all we have time for.