by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the joint press point with the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili
Prime Minister Garibashvili,
It is a great honor and pleasure to be here in Georgia and to visit you.
And this is my first visit to Georgia as a Secretary General of NATO and the visit is a [inaudible] expression of a strong support and the solidarity we are showing to Georgia.
And I appreciate this opportunity to meet with you, with your Defence and Foreign Ministers and also to inaugurate the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre later on today.
We have just had wide-ranging discussions on our close partnership, your reform path and the security situation in the region.
Georgia is a strong and reliable contributor to our shared security.
Your troops have stood shoulder to shoulder with NATO for many years.
Georgia is now the second largest contributor to our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.
I know this has meant real sacrifices.
For many Georgian soldiers and their families.
We honor their sacrifice.
And we are grateful for their service.
Our cooperation over so many years has also helped Georgian forces to become more capable. And better able to work together with NATO Allies than ever before.
Today, we will deepen our cooperation even further. The inauguration of the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre will be a significant step deepening further our cooperation.
It will help make Georgia and Georgian forces even more capable and more modern. And it will also strengthen cooperation between NATO and partner nations. To contribute to international peace and security.
So the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package that we agreed together last year is now delivering tangible results.
We just conducted our first NATO exercise in Georgia, with Allies and partner countries.
Allied experts are working intensively with the Ministry of Defence to support your country’s defence reform.
So there is more Georgia in NATO and more NATO in Georgia.
All the commitments we have made together are on track and on time.
And all these efforts help Georgia to move closer to your aspiration of NATO membership.
Georgia has the necessary tools to continue to move towards membership.
And you are making use of them.
Euro-Atlantic integration is not an easy road.
It takes time, determined efforts and real change.
I know that the Georgian people and the Government of Georgia remain committed to this path.
We follow closely your reforms, including of the judiciary system.
I welcome the remarkable progress you have made.
And I look forward to continued progress.
Also when it comes to constitutional and electoral reforms.
As you undertake these challenging reforms, we will continue to support you.
NATO counts on Georgia.
And Georgia can count on NATO.
Thank you so much.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
Q: Georgian Public Broadcaster: Secretary General, you have mentioned that Georgia has all the mechanisms to become a future member of NATO. We … [inaudible] is related to Warsaw Summit and the issue of MAP, bearing in mind that every aspirant country possesses MAP. We quite well are aware that it is a bit premature to speak about Warsaw Summit. But what is the disposition? What is the attitude within NATO that the progress with Georgia is to be reflected within... in the course of the Warsaw Summit?
And the question goes to the prime minister. The Russian side, very often, underscore that... their negative position towards the Training and Evaluation Centre. What do you anticipate...? Do you anticipate some aggressive step on the Russian side? And whether the Georgian government stands ready to face this threat?
JENS STOLTENBERG: I cannot prejudge the conclusions and the decisions which are going to be taken at the NATO Summit in Warsaw next year. But what I can say is that Georgia already has the necessary tools to make progress towards membership. And that's actually what we are seeing. We are seeing that you are making progress when it comes to the reform path. And I welcome that reform of your political system, the judiciary system. And I see that there is more work to do. But I'm very inspired and encouraged by the progress we have seen. And I think that the government is really committed. The government of Georgia is really committed to taking this reform path forward.
Second, I see that we also are making progress together by increased NATO presence in Georgia. We have the national annual programme. We have the NATO Georgia Commission. We have the substantial NATO-Georgia package. And we have more NATO exercises, more NATO presence in Georgia. And today, we are going to inaugurate the Joint Training Centre which is the first important step when it comes to building up this centre to something which is really substantial with different sites and range all over Georgia. And it just contributes to the real progress we are making together in Georgia by increasing NATO presence in Georgia.
So there is more Georgia in NATO and more NATO in Georgia. These are real progress. And it is important for Georgia as such; but it is also of course a way to move forward towards membership.
IRAKLI GHARIBASHVILI (Prime Minister of Georgia): Thank you very much for your question. As it concerns the... the Training & Evaluation Centre which is about to be inaugurated today, and to … [inaudible] I want to state that this centre by its form and content is by no means aimed against any country. This is the Georgian Training & Evaluation Centre which will be set up for our militaries, for raising and elevating their qualification level. And one more time, allow me to strongly emphasize that this cannot be perceived as a centre aimed against any country, just conversely I reckon that this centre will give us a hand to further strengthen Georgian armed forces which by all means will be conducive to the strengthening of regional stability in our country; and allow me to underscore that our government is proceeding with pragmatic policy related to our neighbouring countries including Russia. We have... We're continuing the dialogue... We have the dialogue on the issues of trade and we are aspiring to retain this pragmatic approach.
And ... but it goes without saying that this centre is not against any other country. And we have already … [inaudible] this experience … [inaudible] base, the mountain centre, which has been quite properly operating. It will be another centre which will be contributing to the strengthening of our armed forces. Thank you very much.