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The North Atlantic Council visit to Georgia ends on a hopeful note

By Inga Kakulia
Monday, October 7
The North Atlantic Council completed a two-day visit to Batumi, Georgia on October 4th. The delegation included the NATO Deputy Secretary-General, as well as the Permanent Representatives of the Alliance member states.

As stated by the Deputy Secretary-General, Rose Gottemoeller, this visit was an opportunity to deepen and strengthen cooperation between NATO and Georgia even further. And to ensure that the Black Sea remains a strong source of stability and security for all the region

As a part of the visit, the Deputy Secretary-General met with the Prime-Minister, Giorgi Gakharia during the first day of the visit.

During the meeting, Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Gottemoeller said that NATO deeply appreciates the contributions Georgia makes to Euro-Atlantic security and that Georgia is “one of NATO’s closest operational partners. Ms. Gottemoeller said that the visit of the North Atlantic Council was “an occasion to celebrate five years of the Substantial NATO-Georgia package – the cornerstone of our support to the reform of Georgia’s security and defence sectors, and Georgia’s preparations for NATO membership

During a joint press conference with the Prime-Minister Ms Gottemoeller answered the questions from the Georgian Media Representatives. When asked about the prospects of Georgia joining NATO amidst the threats from Russia, the Deputy Secretary-General answered that there’s no question that Russia doesn’t support the Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the NATO’s point of view on this matter. NATO’s position regarding the integration of Georgia has stayed the same since the Bucharest Summit in 2008 when Georgia got a pledge from member states that Georgia was going to be the NATO member.

According to the Deputy Secretary-General, NATO also stands by an international principle that each country should have the right to decide their security arrangements.

Mrs. Gottemoeller along with the permanent representatives of the NATO member states also met with members of the parliament as well as the Chairman, Archil Talakvadze. During this meeting, Ms. Gottemoeller said that NATO would provide ongoing domestic and defense sector reforms in Georgia - with both practical and political support.

“Substantial progress has been made in strengthening democracy, accelerating economic growth, modernizing defense forces and institutions. However, the path and progress of reforms must continue to strengthen Georgia's strength, ability to work alongside NATO allies and, most importantly, to prepare for NATO membership. This requires courage, confidence, the approach of the whole community, and the work of parliamentarians of different backgrounds.

On the second day of the visit, Secretary-General met with the President of Georgia, Salome Zourbichvili as well as different political parties.

The ruling party and the opposition briefed Ms. Gottemoeller and the permanents representatives on the ongoing political processes and reforms in Georgia. Special attention was paid to electoral and judicial reforms. The parliamentary minority has called for more coordinated opposition from NATO to Russia and to speed up the process of integration into the organization, with the Alliance of Patriots initiating armed neutrality at the meeting.

Following a NATO-Georgia Commission meeting in Batumi, Ms. Gottemoeller states that the NATO-Georgia essential package would be improved upon and that it was a firm decision of the allies to provide more resources. The upgraded package will help strengthen Georgia's defense capabilities, including through a joint training and assessment center, a Defense Institution Building and joint exercises.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Davit Zalkaliani, who welcomed the council on the first day, summarized the two-day visit with the following statement: “for two days we had an interesting, meaningful discussion on all the key issues that are relevant to NATO-Georgia relations. Most importantly, during these two days, we heard only positive assessments of Georgia's NATO integration course, of Georgia's reforms in defense and security, political reforms, and strengthening of our sustainability. No less important was the talk of strengthening democratic institutions, in which the Georgian authorities are consistent. The decision taken by the Georgian authorities to move to a new system of elections in 2020 was evaluated as positive, which indicates the sustainability and consistency of Georgia's democracy,” said the Minister.