Joint press conference

with NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Mikheil Janelidze

  • 29 May. 2017 -
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  • Last updated: 30 May. 2017 13:46

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER (Deputy Secretary General NATO): Thank you very much Minister I’m truly delighted to be in Tbilisi today and I thank you for your warm welcome, I thank all your colleagues for their warm welcome. Georgia’s hosting the spring meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly as the Minister mentioned and we are very grateful for your hospitality both today in my case and throughout the weekend for the Parliamentary Assembly. I wanted to mention that I did go to the JTEC today for the purpose of meeting there with the Minister of Defense but also to lay a wreath in honour of those Georgian soldiers who have given their lives in defense of Georgia and in support of our common security concerns. I wanted to mention that for me an American citizen although I’m here as a representative of the NATO Alliance and the NATO Institution as Deputy Secretary General but in America this is a very special day today, this is Memorial Day where we honour our war dead and so it was a special opportunity for me to be at the JTEC and have an opportunity to lay a wreath in honour of those who paid the ultimate price from the Georgian Armed Forces.

I also wanted to note that NATO will soon be joined by a new member and that is Montenegro. They were also at the meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly I noted this morning but last week we welcomed Prime Minister Markovic to the Heads of State and government meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. Montenegro’s presence there demonstrated NATO’s continued commitment to the open-door policy which is a very relevant notion for Georgia. It sent a positive signal to other aspirant countries like Georgia that we will be raising the flag of Montenegro soon over NATO Headquarters, in fact that will come up on the 7th of June when Montenegro finally is able to deposit its accession instrument to the Washington Treaty in Washington D.C. on the 5th of June. So, we will raise the flags over NATO Headquarters and we hope ... I say flags on purpose because we have two at the moment places for flags, one the old Headquarters and one the new Headquarters but we are in the process of moving. In any event, it’s a proud moment for NATO and a proud moment for Montenegro and it is a positive signal to aspirant countries such as Georgia.

These are some of the issues that I discussed today with members of Parliament from across the Alliance and well beyond, among the partner countries who have gathered here in Tbilisi. We are very grateful to Georgia’s contributions to the Alliance and for the service of Georgia’s soldiers. Georgia is the biggest non-NATO contributor to our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan among other activities. Georgia is also contributing to the NATO Response Force and NATO exercises. Through our cooperation over so many years Georgian forces have become more capable and more interoperable than ever before. In 2014 NATO leaders agreed a substantial package of assistance in order to strengthen Georgia’s defense and its ability to work side by side with NATO forces and in order to help Georgia prepare for NATO membership; you are a committed aspirant country. Georgia is committed to the ambitious reform path that it has started and we are delivering on our promise to help Georgia. Foreign Minister Janelidze and I just signed an agreement that supports the strengthening of NATO Georgian relations. It may seem rather technical but we are expanding the leading ... the legal arrangements rather for the presence of personnel from NATO and partner countries who work in Georgia on the substantial NATO Georgia package and other mutually agreed activities. So, from that perspective it may be a technical agreement but it is a very very important one. This is further deepening our relations. In short NATO will continue to count on Georgia and we will continue to support you. You are committed to us and we are committed to you. So, thank you very much Minister.

MIKHEIL JANELIDZE (Georgia Minister of Foreign Affairs): Thank you.

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER: And over to you.

MIKHEIL JANELIDZE: Thank you very much.

Q: [Interpreted]: I have a question to our guest. I wonder what messages you can send to the aspiring countries after the Summit in Brussels?

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER: I already mentioned the ... the question was what message can I send to the aspiring countries after this meeting this past week in Brussels. And I will say, I’ve already mentioned that Montenegro’s entry into the Alliance as our newest member is in itself a significant significant symbol of NATO’s continuing open door policy, and I want to stress as a point that the door’s open to the aspirant countries and we are very pleased to have Montenegro as our newest member and we’ll continue to work with all the aspirant countries to move forward in the direction of NATO membership. The second point I would like to stress is it is an important principle that countries should have the opportunity to choose their security arrangements for themselves. It cannot be something that is dictated from the outside, NATO does not dictate to countries whether they want to become a member of the Alliance or not. We work with countries who are interested in working with us and we see absolutely no contradiction for countries to seek other paths for their security. So, I did want to stress that point as well. Not every one aspires to join NATO but nevertheless we have some countries such as Sweden and Finland whom we work with very very closely and they are among our closest partners like Georgia but they do not aspire to be NATO members. They have chosen a somewhat different security path and that’s the important point countries must have the right to choose their own security path, they must choose their own security arrangements for themselves.

Q: [Interpreted]: Georgian Public Broadcaster I have questions to both of you concerning the decision to threats in the Black Sea security. What benefit Georgian may yield as a result of this decision?

MIKHEIL JANELIDZE: [Interpreted]: Today we’ve ... we are witnessing that the Black Sea is quite strongly militarized as a result of the Russian aggression and as a result of the activities of the Russian Federation. Therefore, we welcome those activities that will make sure that Georgia is better protected and better secured, and strengthen the greater presence of NATO on the Black Sea will be oriented towards the better security for Georgia. Stability on the Black Sea is very important for us. The Black Sea has to be an economically active Sea. The Black Sea is important for us, both for the Euro-Atlantic and European integration and of course primarily for ensuring our national security. Therefore, we participate in this cooperation. This was mentioned first on the Warsaw Summit last year, we expressed our preparedness to cooperate on the Black Sea security issues and may I once again say that we welcome the NATO activities and the steps to be taken forward.  The process is still underway, the agreements yet have to be drafted but this readiness for cooperation has been already demonstrated by Georgia.

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER: Thank you, I don’t have very much to add to the Minister’s words except to say that we value of course Georgia’s experience as a Black Sea Literal State, this is basically a region that Georgia knows very well and so it helps with NATO’s situational awareness to have good lines of communication open with Georgia on Black Sea, Black Sea security matters and as to the rest I just refer to the Minister’s words; I could not have said it better myself.

Q: [Interpreted]: At the Parliamentary Assembly meeting a lot has been said about the possibility to grant MAP to Georgia. Are you considering any possibility of granting any alternative to Georgia, alternative to MAP?

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER: No. No. I don’t really have anything to add except I will say what I have just said a moment ago that NATO welcomes that Georgia is an aspirant country and we welcome the opportunity to work with Georgia toward membership in NATO. I will say that Georgia is in the midst of government reform process and also reform of the Defense Ministries and Security Ministries and those reforms we encourage very much and they are reforms that should continue as you are working in the direction of eventual NATO membership.

MIKHEIL JANELIDZE: [Interpreted]: I’d like to also answer this question. First of all, I have to say that at the Warsaw Summit one very clear message was sent that Georgia has all practical instruments necessary for our preparation towards membership. MAP is a procedure which is developed by the Alliance as one of the stages and for Georgia we think that MAP is that part of the ultimate political decision but until this ultimate political decision is taken the political decisions that Georgia will become a NATO member was taken in 2008 in Bucharest. As for the final decision MAP will be the part of the final decision and before that we will do everything to make Georgia the country which efficiently utilizes all practical instruments in its hands. It was very clearly stated in the declaration that Georgia very effectively uses its own instruments and has achieved very good progress in the implementation of instruments and in the course of implementing reforms be it democratically; reforms of economic and social reforms which are provided by the annual Action Plan and also the reforms under the NATO Georgia substantive package which is related to Georgia’s heightening its defense capabilities and greater harmonization with NATO standards. These two directions make our country stronger at this stage of implementing reforms and at the stage of integration and I’d like to welcome one very important political support which is related to granting MAP to Georgia.