Joint press conference
with NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and Giorgi Gakharia, Prime Minister of Georgia following the meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission
Moderator [Interpreted]: Greetings the press conference of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia, and Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Mrs Rose Gottemoeller. Joint press conference will start, after the short statements of the parties we will switch to the Q&A.
Giorgi Gakharia [Georgian Prime Minister] [Interpreted]: So, greetings. Today, Georgia is hosting the North Atlantic Council for the fifth time. It's a symbolic point that this happened in Batumi because, between NATO and Georgia, the Black Sea safety collaboration becomes more and more significant. I would like to render my special thanks to Mrs Rose Gottemoeller for her longstanding support and backup of our country. This is very important that Georgia's full integration in NATO. This is the choice of our populist, of our people, and we have to go to great lengths that by efficient collaboration to attain this goal. Today, we have had an opportunity to conduct very important discussions where we evaluated Georgia's achievements, Georgia's success, in terms of democratisation and deepening of the defence capabilities. This was an … [inaudible] by our friends and, also from their side, we received many recommendations which the enforcement of them will become our goal. So, you are aware that our progress with NATO is more and more efficient over the last years. You know that, in terms of the joint exercise in the current 2019, we have serious success and we all wait on the fact that this efficient collaboration, which is translated into the interoperability with the NATO forces, it will be rendered into real results. And we are holding out hope that what the Georgian citizens are voting for, our strategic partners will back up this too. Thank you.
Rose Gottemoeller [NATO Deputy Secretary General]:
Thank you very much Prime Minister and thank you for your very warm welcome to Batumi.
It is a pleasure to be here with the North Atlantic Council, representing all 29 Allied nations.
This visit is a demonstration of NATO’s strong and growing partnership with Georgia.
We have just finished a productive meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission.
Georgia is among our closest partners. And we deeply appreciate your contributions to our shared security.
You are one of the largest contributors to our training mission in Afghanistan – helping us to deny safe haven to terrorists and creating the conditions for peace in that country.
Congratulations that Georgia is holding the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, the highest position ever held by a Georgian officer in a NATO-led mission, and we appreciate your leadership in that regard and we welcome Brigadier General Nikoloz Janjgava to this vital role.
You also provide troops to the NATO Response Force. And earlier this year, you hosted a joint NATO-Georgia exercise, which the Prime Minister referred to just a moment ago, even I could understand that Georgian. But it included the participation of 24 Allies and partners. Congratulations on the success of what was a Georgia planned and Georgia-led exercise, a very important step in your military development.
Today, we celebrate five years of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package.
This is the cornerstone of our support for Georgia’s defence and security.
The package is bolstering your country’s defences – including through a Joint Training and Evaluation Centre, a Defence Institution Building school, and joint exercises.
This afternoon, we agreed to refresh and improve the package. Allies committed to provide further resources, and welcomed Georgia’s significant progress on reforms. You have strengthened your defence instiutions, modernized your armed forces, and made clear progress on defence spending. We encourage you to continue on this path, and to push ahead with necessary reforms beyond the area of defence. It is equally important to strengthen the rule of law and to implement further judiciary reform. We will continue to work with you on reforms that move Georgia closer to NATO.
At the Brussels Summit in July 2018, Allied leaders reaffirmed that NATO will accept Georgia as a member of the Alliance. The NAC has done so again in our NGC statement just released. This is in line with our decision at the Bucharest Summit in 2008.
NATO’s door remains open.
Today, Allies restated their full support for Georgia’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.
We call on Russia to end its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. And to withdraw its forces from these regions of Georgia. We are also concerned by Russia’s military build-up in the Black Sea region.
That is why we are strengthening the cooperation between Georgia’s and NATO’s naval forces:
- With training for Georgian Coast Guard boarding teams;
- More exercises and port calls;
- And cooperation between Georgia’s Joint Maritime Operations Centre and NATO’s Maritime Command.
Prime Minister, thank you once again for your hospitality. I look forward to continuing to work with you as Georgia moves closer to NATO. Thank you.
Moderator [Interpreted]: Thank you very much. We'll switch to the Q&A. The first question will be asked by the public broadcaster of Georgia.
Question [Interpreted]: Russian Federation clearly states that it will not tolerate Georgia's membership into NATO and will not tolerate the fact that North Atlantic Alliance will reinforce its positions near its borders. After the annexation of Crimea over the last five years, you speak a lot about the Black Sea security and that Georgia's role will be very important in this … [inaudible]. On the background of all this, how you … [inaudible] the integration of Georgia into NATO and do you think that Russian Federation, this rigid position, will erect barriers on the track of Georgia's integration?
Giorgi Gakharia [Georgian Prime Minister] [Interpreted]: Thank you very much for a very interesting question. We have to bear in mind several factors. So, first and foremost, Georgia's integration into NATO is a decision of our compatriots, of our citizens and, by the recent polls, over 71% of the Georgian population supports full integration of Georgia into NATO. This is one thing. The second thing we should factor in is that Georgia's membership and integration into NATO is aimed at the assistance of regional and global safety and not to pose threats to anyone. These are the main direction. Resting on this, we are standing on the track of our democratisation and economic development and basically the development of country towards the Euro-Atlantic direction. This is the decision of our citizens. Subsequently, we consider that we have freedom and resources to make decision together with our citizens how and in what direction, in what unions of state Georgia will be the member of.
Rose Gottemoeller [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Yes, that’s an excellent question. I agree Prime Minister and I would emphasise two points in this regard. First, it's no question that Russia does not support the Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia; that’s not new news to anybody, but that doesn’t have anything to do with NATO's point of view on this matter. NATO holds to the view, as I said a few moments ago, that Georgia and the decision for Georgia to join NATO, stands from the Bucharest Summit in 2008. It's part of the statement that our leaders made in Brussels last year and it's part of the joint statement that the NATO-Georgia Commission just made and that we have just released a few moments ago. So, that’s one important point.
I think the other important point is NATO also stands by an important international principle and that is that each country, it matters not how small they are, how large they are, each country should have the right to decide their own security arrangements. End of story. That’s an important principle from NATO's perspective.
I want to stress that, as a matter of political support for Georgia, many of our Allies spoke up in this vein today, supporting the territorial integratory and sovereignty of Georgia and, furthermore, its right to choose its Euro-Atlantic path.
The other point that we stressed round the table is that NATO wants to work with you and will be ready to help to push you along that path to Euro-Atlantic integration. There's still work to be done. There's still reform progress to be made. But we are ready to work with you on achieving those goals.
Moderator [Interpreted]: Thank you. And one more question of today's press conference from TV company, Imedi.
Question [Interpreted]: Company Imedi, Natalia … [inaudible]. I have the question to Madam Gottemoeller. What Georgia should anticipate from the leaders meeting in London? As you might be aware, Georgia fulfils all the undertaken commitments and you have mentioned that and the Alliance, so Allies, agree upon that. So, will this progress be reflected in London's meeting, in London Summit?
Rose Gottemoeller [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: First of all, I think that the London leaders meeting will be a great opportunity for Georgia to represent itself to the public. We are doing a big event there called NATO Engages, where there will be a lot of opportunities for Georgia to speak to the public, to make its case publically and to really talk to all of the NATO community about its aspirations and about its goals. So, I think that the Summit… it's not a Summit meeting in London, that was the other point I wanted to stress, it's a leaders meeting, which is a different kind of thing. The Summit meetings are long, they're a couple of days long, there are opportunities to meet and talk with many Allies and partners together. There will not be that same kind of opportunity in London, because it's a very short meeting, and there will not be any partners who are meeting with the NATO leadership at that time. It's very similar to the meeting we had in May of 2017 NATO Headquarters. We call it a leaders meeting rather than a Summit meeting, so I did also want to make sure that people knew that difference.
But nevertheless, as I said, there will be a public forum there, NATO Engages, and I think it will be a great opportunity for Georgia to talk about its progress on the Euro-Atlantic integration path and on the reform path.
Moderator: Thank you very much. The press conference is over.