by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission in Defence Ministers session
We just had a very good meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission. Georgia is one of NATO’s closest partners. And we are moving steadily closer together.
The Substantial Package of assistance to Georgia which we agreed a year ago is now a reality. The joint training and evaluation centre in Tbilisi has been inaugurated. We have trained NATO and Georgian troops together in Georgia during the Exercise Agile Spirit. We have built on our political consultation, and our practical cooperation.
Our relationship is on the right track. And Georgia is on the right track. And today we welcomed the progress we have made.
But - there is still more to do. We need to see more progress in key areas of reform. Especially in the rule of law and in the need for independence of the judiciary. NATO stands by Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, must be respected within its internationally recognised borders. We continue to call on Russia to reverse its recognition of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia as independent states. Russia cannot change the reality of international law. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are part of Georgia.
Before our meeting with Georgia, NATO Defence Ministers discussed the long-term adaptation of the Alliance. The world is changing fast, and our job is to keep ahead of the threats. The changes are fundamental. That is why we will continue to adapt politically, militarily and institutionally.
So that our deterrence, our defence and our decision-making are up to the threats we face.
We will keep on implementing the Readiness Action Plan. We will strengthen our ability to counter growing threats like hybrid warfare. Cyber attacks. And missile proliferation.
We will build our partnerships with other countries and we will work with them to make them more stable. And we will make sure our decision-making is as effective as our defence. This work will take time. This will be one of the key issues we tackle at our summit in Warsaw next year.
NATO keeps us safe. And NATO will continue to keep us safe.
With that, I am ready to take your questions.
Moderator: Georgian TV.
Q: Mister Secretary General, Georgia Public Broadcast (inaudible), you just said that Georgia is on the right track. We know that it's too early to discuss the details about our coming summit in Warsaw. But still what is the mood among the member States. How's the progress made by Georgia can be reflected first in December, in final document and then in Warsaw? Thank you very much.
Jens Stoltenberg: The mood in the meeting was very good. And we very much appreciate the possibility to meet with the defence minister. I also met her when I visited Tbilisi some weeks ago. And Georgia is really making progress. It's modernising its armed forces. It's reforming institutions, State's institutions. It's creating an independent judiciary. And it's very much reforming the whole society including the rule of law which is an important element in the reforms we see in Georgia. And in addition to this, Georgia is really contributing to our shared security by contributing forces to different NATO operations, especially to Afghanistan and the Resolute Support Mission there.
I'm certain that the ministers will find ways of recognizing this at their meetings both in December, the foreign ministers; but also at summit in Warsaw, in July. So we very much appreciate the progress we see. We are continuing to work. And both Georgia and NATO have homework to do. We will deliver on the substantial package. And Georgia will continue on the ambitious reform path.
Moderator: Montenegro media please.
Q: Yes, daily newspaper Pobjeda of Montenegro. I was just wondering if you can tell us the predictions about the ministerial meeting by the end of December. Will NATO call Montenegro to be part... Montenegro to be part of the Alliance? Also do you have consensus about this matter? And you will be in Podgorica on 14th of October. You will talk to Montenegro authorities. Also you'll meet some other political partners - opposition. Can you tell us something more about that?
Jens Stoltenberg: Montenegro is really making progress. And there is a growing recognition and also understanding in the Alliance that Montenegro is really moving forward. And I visited Georgia... Montenegro some couple of months ago. And I was able to see myself the progress Montenegro has made and is making both when it comes to the judiciary, the rule of law and also reforming its intelligence service and armed forces. And the North Atlantic Council will visit Montenegro next week. I'm not able to announce all the details in the program. But normally we meet also with the Parliament. And I'm looking forward to the visit. And this will be part of the preparations for the Foreign Ministerial Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in December.
And we are going to make decisions. And we have announced before that we will assess the progress of Montenegro and then make decisions on whether to invite Montenegro in our meeting in December. It will be wrong if I prejudge the decisions of the meeting which will take place in December. I would just today limit myself to say that Montenegro is making progress. And I'm certain that this will be recognized by the foreign ministers in December.
Moderator: Last question, please.
Q: Secretary General, good afternoon. My name is Petrov Kolovan(?) from (inaudible) Business Daily Moscow. Can you please tell us NATO was planning to reduce the military personnel in Afghanistan? But for the last time, the situation in this country deteriorates; can you consider that it could be made of the decision that on the contrary the Alliance could increase its personnel there? Thank you.
Jens Stoltenberg: No final decision has been made regarding the duration of the Resolute Support; and neither the profile of the mission. What is certain is that NATO will not leave Afghanistan. We will continue to support the Afghans. What we are assessing in... is in what ways. And this is partly a discussion about the profile... the level of forces we will have there; but also the geographical footprint where the NATO forces are going to be stationed. We ended our combat mission at the end of last year. We have now started the train-assist-and advise mission, the Resolute Support Mission. But as I also stated earlier this morning, even when we decide or also after we have decided to end the Resolute Support Mission, then we will continue with the Enduring Partnership which will also have a military element. And we'll continue to provide financial support for the Afghan National Army and Security Forces.
So we will not leave Afghanistan. We will continue to be there. We'll continue to support the Afghans. But of course, we'll come... we are assessing the situation. Then we will make decisions based on the facts on the ground.
In the meeting today, many Allies and many ministers expressed the need to be flexible; and to take into account the security situation on the ground when we take our decisions. So I sense that many Allies are willing to stay longer if needed; but final decisions will be taken later.
When it comes to our presence in 2016, next year, those decisions have to be taken by the end of the year. We are now waiting military advice and military assessments. When it comes to the more-longer term perspectives I think that this will be one of the main issues we'll address at our summit in July and also the question when to end the Resolute Support Mission and to move into the Enduring Partnership. But we will stay in Afghanistan.
Moderator: We have no time for more questions. Thank you for coming and having covered this ministerial.
Jens Stoltenberg: Thank you so much. And good evening.