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 here.
Welcome back to NATO Headquarters. I really value the close partnership between Georgia and NATO.
Georgia is one of NATO's closest partners. And earlier this month in Riga, Allies reiterated their firm support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We continue to call on Russia to end its recognition of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to withdraw its forces.
Today we discussed the security situation in the region, including Russia's military buildup in and around Ukraine, and its destabilizing activity in the Black Sea region.
We agree on the need to remain vigilant and avoid escalation.
Any future Russian aggression would come at a high price and have serious political and economic consequences for Russia.
Georgia and Ukraine have the right to choose their own alliances, and Russia has no right to dictate that choice.
We reject any idea of spheres of influence in Europe, they are part of history and should remain part of history.
So NATO will continue to provide strong political and practical support to its partners.
We're working to strengthen Georgia's defense capabilities with maritime support, joint exercises and information sharing.
So Prime Minister we also addressed Georgia’s domestic reforms and implementation of the annual national program.
It is vital that the work on judiciary reform, media freedom and accountability of the security sector continues.
I also encourage you to work with the opposition to resolve political differences and reduce polarizing rhetoric and actions.
NATO expects Georgia to uphold the democratic standards that it has worked so hard to develop in recent years.
So Prime Minister once again, welcome it's great to have you here. Great to have this great partnership between Georgia and NATO.
And let me also thank you for the efforts Georgia made for so many years in Afghanistan, contributing to our efforts to fight international terrorism, and also helping to evacuate 1000s of people out of Afghanistan in August this year.
And our mission in Afghanistan was not in vain. We went in to fight international terrorism and since 9/11 there has been no terrorist attack organized from Afghanistan against our countries.
And we continue to stand together in preventing Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.
So that demonstrates that the partnership between Georgia and NATO is a two way street.
We support each other and we are extremely grateful for the support you have provided to different NATO missions and operations over the years.
So once again, welcome.