Joint press point
by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili
Prime Minister Garibashvili, dear Irakli.
It’s great to have you back here at NATO Headquarters. You know NATO very well and therefore it’s an honor and a pleasure to meet you once again here at NATO.
Georgia is one of NATO’s most important partners. We have a close political partnership, and a strong practical cooperation.
Our forces serve side by side in Afghanistan, training the brave Afghan security forces. And helping to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists and we are extremely grateful for the contributions and the commitment of Georgia over many many years.
At the meeting we had today and also the meeting later on today, of the NATO-Georgia Commission, we will discuss how we can build on our cooperation. Including with the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which we updated last year.
This is the cornerstone of the Alliance’s support to Georgia’s reform efforts. It helps Georgia operate effectively with Allied forces, and prepare for NATO membership.
We will continue to strengthen our training and exercises. And enhance our joint situational awareness, including in the Black Sea region.
Yesterday, the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 entered the territorial waters of Georgia. This visit aims to enhance the ability of our naval forces to work together, by conducting joint exercises with the Georgian coast guards.
So I think this visit of our standing forces working together with your coast guard demonstrates that we are actually delivering together when it comes to practical cooperation. Black Sea security is a priority for NATO and Georgia. And we are concerned by Russia’s continued military build-up in the region.
Russia is using Crimea to project forces in the Black Sea. And so we are working to strengthen our presence in the Black Sea region.
NATO supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, within its internationally recognised borders.
And we continue to call on Russia to end its recognition of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and to withdraw all its forces.
So Prime Minister, our close partnership also means that we do not shy away from difficult discussions. The recent political developments in Georgia are worrying.
NATO expects Georgia to uphold the democratic standards that it has worked so hard to develop in recent years. This includes resolving political differences through dialogue. And avoiding divisive rhetoric and actions. NATO supports the mediation efforts of the European Union.
Prime Minister, I encourage you to work with the opposition to find common ground and common solutions.
So once again, thank you for coming. Thank you for attending the meeting with the ambassadors and the commission later on today. Georgia is really a highly valued partner and we very much appreciate the political and practical cooperation with you.
NATO DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON: We have time for two questions. The first question will go to Levan Akhalaia from Georgian Public Broadcaster
LEVAN AKHALAIA: Yes, thank you. Good afternoon. Secretary General, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to ask you this question, to both of you. It concerns the 2030 strategy of NATO and role of Georgia, especially when its reality is changing in our region - I mean Nagorno Karabakh conflict and Russia’s influence growing, could it help accelerate Georgia's integration in NATO?
NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Let me start by saying that we very much appreciate and value the very close partnership between Georgia and NATO.
We strongly support Georgia's efforts to implement reforms and we will continue to both provide the political and practical support and allies stand behind this clear message, and I urge all those allies also to provide and step up their practical support.
We also strongly believe that Georgia should continue to focus on reforms, as they move towards further Euro-Atlantic integration. Allies support them on that path. And this was also one of the issues I discussed with the Prime Minister today.
We have made a decision back in Bucharest in 2008, we still stand by those decisions, and then we continue to help and support efforts to move forward towards NATO membership.
NATO DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON: Next question, we'll go to Ketevan Kardava from TV IMEDI
KETEVAN KARDAVA: Thank you very much. I thank you very much for taking my question. Mr. Secretary General, first of all happy birthday and I wish you all the best. We need you.
My question is about the political crisis in Georgia, you mentioned it in your statement. All political parties should take deep breaths, and be ready to step back to reach compromises, it is a statement made today in European Parliament, can you tell us why is this matters for NATO, reaction of NATO member states, and will it influence - and how it will influence on - our path to future membership as we're waiting for invitation in this organization. Thank you very much.
NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: NATO is an Alliance built on some core values; the rule of law, democracy, individual liberty and of course these values are important for all allies, and that’s also the reason why we welcome the efforts and the progress Georgia has made, when it comes to strengthening democratic institutions, implement reforms and modernise different institutions including in the defence and security sector but also in the judiciary and in other ways, over the last years and NATO and NATO allies have supported these efforts over many, many years.
That's also the reason why allies are concerned when they have seen some of the recent developments in Georgia, including the detention of the head of the major opposition party.
So, what we would like to see is of course a resolution to this dispute, these difficulties, and then to find a way where Georgia can continue to implement the reforms and have a well-functioning Parliament at the heart of your democracy.
We also support the mediation efforts by the European Union, and the Prime Minister and I, we discussed this issue during our meeting today and I expect also allies to raise the issue later on, during their meetings later today.
NATO DEPUTY SPOKESPERON: Thank you very much. That's all we have time for today, thank you ladies and gentlemen.