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
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.