by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the opening of the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre in Georgia
President, Prime Minister, ministers, officers, soldiers, their friends,
Today marks an important moment in the NATO-Georgia relationship.
With the inauguration of the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre, our cooperation will grow deeper.
Georgian forces will grow more interoperable with NATO. NATO will be more present, in Georgia, and we will be more visible in Georgia. And Georgia’s commitment to international peace and security will grow even more.
First and foremost, this Centre is testament to the dedication of the Georgian women and men in uniform who have served side by side with NATO soldiers. Including those who have lost their lives, or been injured, in those operations. We pay tribute to them.
This Centre will help Georgia to continue making its Armed Forces more modern and more capable of meeting 21st century challenges.
But the Centre will not only help the Georgian Armed Forces. It will be equally important in training Allied and partner troops. And it will facilitate better cooperation between the military forces of Georgia and other nations.
NATO, Georgia and other partner countries have gained a lot of experience in Afghanistan, and other operations, on how to work together. Throughout the training and exercises supported by this Centre, that experience will be preserved and strengthened for the future.
More work remains to be done before this Centre is fully up and running.
Georgian and Allied experts will keep working to make sure that we draw the maximum benefit possible from the training offered at this Centre.
Of course, the Centre will be more than this building and its offices.
It will include training sites and ranges all across Georgia. And it will have more Allied and Georgian personnel working together, towards our shared goals of contributing to international peace and security.
Last September, NATO leaders and Georgia, together, decided that this Centre should be established.
We have met that commitment, on time.
NATO has promised Georgia substantial support to advance its defence reforms. Today marks another concrete step in realising that promise.
I am very glad to be together with you today. And to declare the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre open. Congratulations.