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Georgian President: Our Goal Is NATO Membership

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, March 29
President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili says Georgia is a reliable partner of NATO and its goal is the membership of the alliance.

Zurabishvili made the statement at NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre, where NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019 was successfully completed on March 29. The training involves 350 military and civil persons.

“We clearly and confidently declare that our goal is unchanged and it is - NATO membership. Our goal is to strengthen democracy and security and to continue active participation in the international partnership for achieving global peace. Georgia is already a leading country in NATO-Georgia exercise this year and it is very significant. This status demonstrates how much we have been developed for the second exercise and how much the trust and support of strategic partners towards Georgia have increased,” the president addressed the training participants.

She also reminded the visit of NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg in Georgia, saying Georgia is the best partner in international peacekeeping missions.

“Our western partners always underline Georgia’s great contribution to the strengthening of international security. Georgia's move towards NATO and strengthening the country's defense capabilities are not directed against anyone and no threats to us are justified. Georgia is a free, sovereign country and it makes a free choice and chooses its allies freely. Our choice not only strengthens Georgia's defense capabilities and its security but also strengthens the stability in the region and lays a foundation for our peaceful policy. This is the only correct and the only future-oriented choice, so we will follow the path we have chosen - more NATO in Georgia and more Georgia in NATO,” said Zurabishvili.

The Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze, also delivered a speech. According to him, Georgia has never been so close to NATO.

"We have repeatedly stated and firmly believe that NATO-Georgia cooperation is aimed at ensuring peace, stability, and development in the region that should serve the interests of all parties. Georgia is fully aware of the modern security environment and, together with the international community, shares responsibility for ensuring global peace and stability,” he said.

Bakhtadze noted that it is a great honor for Georgia that the NATO-Georgia exercise is being held in our country as it is another confirmation of Georgia’s unwavering course of Euro -Atlantic integration and the close co-operation between Georgia and NATO.

“Holding this year's exercise at the NATO-Georgian Joint Training and Evaluation Centre within the frameworks of the NATO-Georgia essential package means more Georgia in NATO and more NATO in Georgia,” he claimed.

Acting US Ambassador to Georgia Elizabeth Rood underlined that Georgia participates in NATO-Georgia exercise as an important partner of NATO.

She thinks the training facilitates Georgia’s skills and increases the possibility of a partnership with NATO in operational and security operations.

The acting Ambassador also called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Georgia’s occupied territories to positions they were before 2008 conflict.

"It is no secret that Russia occupies 20% of the territory of Georgia. We condemn it. We urge Russia to withdraw its troops to the positions before the conflict and to reverse its recognition of so-called independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia", Elizabeth Rood said.