Joint press conference
by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Margvelashvili of Georgia
Mr. President, it is a great pleasure and honour to welcome you to NATO Headquarters. This is your first visit to NATO Headquarters and I think your visit today very much express the strong partnership between Georgia and NATO. And Georgia is a strong partner of NATO and an important contributor to our shared security.
And you play a remarkable role in our operations. Today Georgia is the second largest contributor to our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.
And Georgian troops have stood shoulder to shoulder with NATO for many years. And we are very grateful for that.
That is why we work so well together. And NATO is committed to help Georgia make its defence still more modern.
This will help you move closer to your aspiration of NATO membership.
At our summit last year we invited you to join our initiative to enhance interoperability with partners. We also put in place a Substantial NATO-Georgia Package to strengthen Georgia’s defence capabilities.
These initiatives are well on track.
NATO trainers will help and support your ongoing defence reforms.
And this year, we will set up a NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre in Georgia.
The centre will improve our troops’ ability to work together – troops from Georgia, NATO and from partner countries
Today we also discussed Georgia’s progress in making the defence sector more transparent and accountable.
We have seen significant progress. We welcome the ambitious plans you have announced for this year.
And we encourage you to deepen your democratic reforms.
That includes strengthening the independence of the judiciary, and the rule of law.
Mr. President, Georgia is moving closer to NATO. We are looking forward to continue working with you on this path so welcome once again.
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): We'll go to the Georgian Public Broadcasting.
Q: Georgian Public Broadcaster, Minister Secretary General, you always tell us that no certain country will have a veto on NATO; that you could drive from a sense on the decisions that are made here by NATO member States. But still our country faces many challenges. President mentioned about so-called treaties between Russia and our occupied territories. Leaders from South Ossetia and Abkhazia were among the guests two days ago in Moscow. And also nearly every day, we hear from Moscow, from Russian government members that substantive package is a threat for them. In this reality, what message you want to deliver to Moscow, to Russian President, now when you are standing next to President of Georgia. Thank you very much.
JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): My message is that Georgia is a strong partner of NATO. And that we welcome the very close cooperation we have developed over several years. And that we support the ongoing reform process in Georgia. And we underline very much the fundamental core value of the right of any nation, every nation to decide itself and to choose which path it will follow, including what kind of security arrangement or military alliance it would like to be part of. So whether Georgia is going to become a member of NATO or not is something which is up to Georgia and 28 NATO Allies to decide. It's not up to any other nation to veto or to interfere in that process. And we are continuing to work on that with Georgia [? Inaudible], with a substantial package. And Georgia is making progress.
We are also very grateful for the strong contributions from Georgia to different NATO operations. And again, it's a decision which is going to be taken by Georgia and 28 NATO Allies. No one else has the right to veto or to interfere in that decision-making process. And we are still committed to... and we are very much working on the implementation of the substantial package we agreed at Wales.
OANA LUNGESCU: Lady over there.
Q: TV Company Rustavi 2, Mister Secretary General, today started the biggest US-Georgia drills. So how do you estimate these trainings, thanks?
JENS STOLTENBERG: So I believe that part of the partnership we have developed and we are developing with Georgia is about also exercises: both NATO exercises and also bilateral exercises between NATO Allies and Georgia. It is important to exercise forces. And it increases the interoperability of our forces. It increases our ability to work together. And we have developed that interoperability through our joint efforts in, for instance, Afghanistan. Now we are reducing our presence in Afghanistan, military presence in Afghanistan. And then exercises become even more important.
So exercises is part of the comprehensive package. The establishment of the training centre is another element. And now we have also in place the core team of experts which are essential for implementing the comprehensive package, the cooperation between Georgia and NATO.
OANA LUNGESCU: OK. Thank you very much, indeed!
JENS STOLTENBERG: Thank you.