Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller Joint Press Statement Print Version

2019-10-04

..

 

Giorgi Gakharia, Prime Minister of Georgia

NATO-Georgia cooperation in the context of Black Sea security is becoming increasingly relevant. I would like to express immense gratitude to Rose Gottemoeller for her continuous friendship and support of our country. It is very important because Georgia's accession to NATO is our citizens' choice, and we must do everything to achieve this goal through effective cooperation. Today, we had an opportunity to hold far-reaching discussions to assess Georgia's success and achievements both in terms of enhancing democratization and defense capabilities, something confirmed unequivocally by our friends. At the same time, we have received many recommendations from them, and acting on these recommendations will be our goal. Over the recent years, Georgia's progress in cooperation with NATO has grown increasingly effective. As you know, Georgia has achieved serious success in our joint exercises throughout 2019. And we expect that effective cooperation-which has already crystalized into Georgia's highest interoperability with NATO forces-will ultimately translate into tangible results, and that which enjoys support from Georgian citizens, we hope, will be supported by our strategic partners.

Rose Gottemoeller

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 heaven to terrorists and creating conditions for peace in that country. Congratulations that Georgia is holding the position of the Deputy Chief of Staff for our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, eth 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 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 defense and security. The package is bolstering your country's defenses, including through a joint training and evaluation center, a defense institution building school, and joint exercises.
This afternoon, we agreed to refresh and improve the package. Allies are committed to providing further resources and welcome Georgia's progress on reforms. You have strengthened your defense institutions, modernized your armed forces, and made clear progress on defense spending. We encourage you to continue on this path, and to push ahead with necessary reforms beyond the area of defense. It is equally important to strengthen the rule of law and 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 repeated and 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 buildup in the Black Sea Region. That is why we are strengthening the cooperation between Georgia and NATO's naval forces, with training for Georgian coastguard boarding teams, more exercises on port calls, and cooperation between Georgia's joint maritime operations center 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.

Public Broadcaster: My question is about the country's integration into NATO. We are all aware of the Russian Federation's position which openly states that it will not accept Georgia's accession to NATO or NATO's stronger presence near its borders. Naturally, Georgia's role will be huge in all this. Accordingly, given the foregoing, where do you see Georgia tomorrow in terms of NATO integration? Will the Russian Federation's brute stance create particular obstacles on Georgia's path to integration?

Giorgi Gakharia: Georgia's integration into NATO is our citizens' decision, and you are all aware that, according to the latest statistics, 71% of Georgia's population supports full integration into NATO. We must also keep in mind that Georgia's integration into NATO seeks to promote regional and global security, not to threaten anyone. Therefore, these are our key directions on our path to democratization, economic development, and the country's Euro-Atlantic development in general. This is the choice of our citizens, which is why we believe that [we can]-and we have enough freedom and resources-decide together with our citizens what union of states Georgia will be part of.

Rose Gottemoeller: Yes, that is an excellent question, I agree, Prime Minister. I emphasize two points in this regard. First, it is no question that Russia does not support the Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia. That is not news to anybody. But that does not have anything to do with NATO's point of view on this matter. NATO holds to the view-as I said a few moments ago-that Georgia and the decision for Georgia to joint NATO stands from the Bucharest Summit in 2008. It is part of the statement that our leaders made in Brussels last year, and it is part of the joint statement that the NATO-Georgia Commission just made and we just released a few moments ago. So that is one important point. I think the other important point is that NATO also stands by an important international principle, and that is that each country-it matters not how small they are, how large they are-each country should have the right to decide their own security arrangements. End of story. That is an important point from NATO's perspective. I want to stress that, as a matter of political support for Georgia, many of our allies spoke up in this vein today, supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, and furthermore its right to choose its Euro-Atlantic path. The other point we stressed around the table is that NATO wants to work with you, and we will be ready to push you along that path to Euro-Atlantic integration. There is still work to be done. There is still reform progress to be made. But we are ready to work with you on achieving those goals.

Imedi: What should Georgia expect from the London meeting of NATO leaders? Georgia has fulfilled all of its obligations, and you have repeatedly pointed that out, and every member of the alliance agrees on that. Thus, will our progress reflect in the London meeting?

Rose Gottemoeller: First of all, I think that the London leaders' meeting will be a great opportunity for Georgia to represent itself to the public. We are doing a big event there called NATO Engages, where there will be a lot of opportunities for Georgia to speak to the public, to make its case publicly, and to really talk to all of the NATO community about its aspirations and goals. So I think that the summit, not a summit meeting in London, though-that was the other point I wanted to stress-it is a leaders' meeting, which is a different kind of thing. Summit meetings are long, a couple of days, and there are opportunities to meet and talk with many allies and partners together. There will not be the same kind of opportunity in London, because it is a very short meeting, and there will not be any partners to our meeting with the NATO leadership at that time. And it is very similar to the meeting that we had in May 2017 at NATO headquarters. We call it a leaders' meeting rather than a summit meeting. So I did want to make sure that people knew that difference. But nevertheless, as I said, there will be a public forum there, NATO Engages, and I think it will be a great opportunity for Georgia to talk about its progress on the Euro-Atlantic integration path, and on the reform path.


Prime Minister's Press Office