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President Zourabichvili: Georgia’s NATO Integration Path Is Very Successful That Has Provided Georgia with More Security and Our Defence Forces with More Readiness

“Our path towards integration into NATO is not only my choice, but it reflects the choice of the Georgian nation and the Georgian population. Our path towards integration has been a very successful one, which has provided Georgia’s more security and more readiness for its Defence Forces,” President Zourabichvili said at the joint press conference with Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, held as part of President Zourabichvili’s first working visit to Brussels.
In her address, President Zourabichvili has underscored the importance of her first foreign trip to Brussels, being a demonstration of Georgia’s links with NATO.
“We have enshrined in the Georgian Constitution this Georgian commitment to enter NATO and the EU and that remains a top foreign policy priority and it will be one of the priorities of my mandate for six years.
So, I am very hopeful that during that mandate I will be as successful as one of my woman predecessor in the Baltic region. I am very thankful for all the support that Georgia has received from you, Mr. Secretary General, personally, and from this organization. Our path towards integration has been a very successful one, which has provided Georgia with more security, more readiness for its Armed Forces. Modernization, what you have mentioned now, what is going to be done for the coastguards is something that is extremely important for the new environment of Georgia.
Also, it is very important the support that we received for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia at a time when we have two territories that are occupied, when we have this occupation line, which is a constant reminder of a very tense situation. There is constant pressure on the population that is living close to the occupying line but, also for the rest of the population because we cannot forget what is there so close - even so close from our capital city. Georgia has proven not only its determination but, that it is a very reliable partner and a very capable partner of NATO. We are delivering sometimes more than other members on the requirements of the requisites of the two percent. We are also spending now twenty percent on modernization our equipment, which is another request.
So, Georgia is really trying to be a model partner for NATO and we are also taking note of the increased professionalism and dedication of our military servicemen. And thanks also to the operations we are contributing to because that is a two-way road. We are contributing, we are financially also contributing but, we are getting also quite a lot in exchange. We are actively engaged on the issues of Black Sea security; it is so close to us and we need certainly more security, more stability in the Black Sea. We have enough of having one border that is a border of tension and sometimes confrontation so, it is very important for us the Black Sea to be a sea of stability and security and one that unites us with the European Union and our partners on the other side of the Black Sea.
We have discussed the very intensive programme that we have this year, in 2019. We are going to receive, as you mentioned the Georgia-NATO exercise, the military community, your visit. All of that is extremely important to make NATO very visible in Georgia for the Georgian population and also for all the issues that we are going to discuss at that occasion. So, thank you also for these very concrete signals that we are receiving in that matter. I hope that Georgia will be able to celebrate together with NATO in Washington the 70th Anniversary of NATO. And we are standing ready to do more, to be more cooperative and to progress together with you on the path that will lead to our final integration,” President Zourabichvili said.
According to Jens Stoltenberg, Georgia is “really a highly valued partner of NATO”, making strong contributions to the shared security.
“You are one of the largest troop contributors to our training mission in Afghanistan.  You also contribute to the NATO Response Force. And in March, you will host a joint NATO-Georgia exercise with the participation of 17 NATO Allies. All of this demonstrates that Georgia is a unique partner of the Alliance. And that our partnership is getting even closer.
At our meeting today, we agreed to continue working together to prepare Georgia for NATO membership. The Substantial NATO-Georgia Package is already strengthening your country’s defences, including with our Joint Training Centre.
We also welcome the progress you are making on reforms. Including on more effective security and defence institutions and modernizing your Defence Forces.  I encourage you to continue on this path. And I welcome your commitment to match the NATO guideline of spending 2% of GDP on defence.
NATO fully supports Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders which includes the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We call on Russia to end its recognition of and withdraw its forces from both regions.
NATO and Georgia also share concerns about Russia’s military build-up in the Black Sea region and we are stepping up our cooperation at sea, including with: training for Georgian Coast Guard boarding teams; more cooperation between Georgian and NATO naval forces; and cooperation between Georgia’s Joint Maritime Operations Centre and NATO’s Maritime Command. So, Madam President, thank you again for being here. NATO’s partnership with Georgia makes us all safer and all more secure and I look forward to working with you as Georgia moves closer to NATO membership,” Jens Stoltenberg said.
President Zourabichvili’s visit to Brussels began on January 21. She has already held meetings with Johannes Hahn - European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Jean-Claude Juncker - President of the European Commission, Donald Tusk - President of the European Council, Federica Mogherini - Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Dimitris Avramopoulos - European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Antonio Tajani - President of the European Parliament, and members of the European Parliament – Ana Gomes, Clare Moody, Sajjad Karim, Heidi Hautala, Michael Gahler.

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