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NATO Military Committee visits Georgia

By Ana Robakidze
Thursday, February 13
The NATO Military Committee, led by General Knud Bartels, arrived in Tbilisi on February 11th. Georgian Defence Minister Irakli Alasania said the visit was very significant for Georgia, as the committee’s positive evaluation of the progress Georgia has achieved recently will be a great asset at the upcoming NATO Summit.

“As Chairman, I would like to express our appreciation for the opportunity to visit Georgia and get a firsthand look at the results of your defence reforms and progress in transforming the Armed Forces. This is the first NATO Military Committee visit to Georgia and the fact that we are here today is a clear sign of NATO's support for the effort undertaken by Georgia,” Knud Bartels said upon his arrival in Tbilisi.

According to the Chief of General Staff of the Georgian armed forces, Vakhtang Kapanadze, the Georgian side will discuss the major goals and future plans Georgia has on its way to NATO integration.

The delegation includes all the senior military representatives for NATO. The head of the NATO Liaison Office in the Caucasus, William Lahue, said, “The fact that the Committee is here shows how much NATO values Georgia as a partner and future member.”

Bartels already held meeting with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, and Defence Minister Irakli Alasania.

Following the meeting, the Georgian president and chairman of NATO made joint statements.

President Margvelashvili thanked the delegation and said the visit is unprecedented and it shows the firm support of the Alliance towards the country. Margvelashvili stressed that Georgia continues to be an important contributor to NATO missions.

“I believe that the NATO-Georgia partnership will continue in the future and will be of an active character…Georgia still stands ready to provide its contribution to global security...Georgia also confirms its readiness to take part in the post-ISAF operation and offers the Alliance its own infrastructure to this end,” the president said.

Margvelashvili expressed his hope that the achievements Georgia has reached in developing democracy and the reforms in the defence sphere will receive an adequate assessment at the upcoming 2014 summit.

“We have discussed a wide range of issues, from Georgia’s strong contribution to NATO operations to progress in security reforms. As Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, I can say that the NATO-Georgia military cooperation is constructive, pragmatic, and exemplary,” General Bartels said. He marked Georgia’s significant commitment to NATO and said the alliance looks forward to enhancing military cooperation after 2014.

At the meeting, the sides underlined the importance of NATO-Georgia cooperation and the existing partner relationship. Georgia's progress towards NATO integration, the democratization process, and the reforms that have been carried out recently in the country were also discussed at the meeting. Special attention was paid to Georgia's contribution to international security, especially in the ISAF mission.

After the official meetings, the NATO Military Committee Session was opened in Radisson Blue Iveria hotel. General Bartels made opening remarks at the session and said, “The Committee is grateful for the opportunity to get a first-hand look at Georgia’s significant steps in transforming its security and defence sector.”

This is the first visit of the NATO Military Committee to Georgia and the first ever Committee Session which was held in Tbilisi.