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PM Gakharia pays official visit to Brussels, meets NATO Secretary-General

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, September 30
The Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia spoke at a joint press conference held after the meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, noting that the parties expressed readiness to continue reforms in various areas.

Gakharia noted that it is important to maintain NATO's open door policy. The Head of Government focused on the situation in the occupied territories of Georgia, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali and thanked the NATO Secretary General for his continued assistance and support to Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“NATO supports Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders,” announced the Secretary General, calling on Russia to withdraw its recognition of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and as well as its troops.

One of the issues discussed during the meeting was the security of the Black Sea region. According to the NATO Secretary General, the Alliance is interested in deepening cooperation with Georgia in the Black Sea region, where Russia's representation has grown significantly in recent years.

“Recently, we have been focusing on the Black Sea region, developing naval potential in cooperation with the NATO Naval Command and the UK. This includes some assistance to the Coast Guard and visits by NATO ships to ports.” he noted, emphasizing the strategic importance of the Black Sea region for Georgia and its NATO allies. Secretary General recalled ‘worth partner’ joint exercises that were recently held in Georgia and announced that the work on updated essential NATO-Georgia package will carry on.

“We are very grateful to Georgia for the strong commitment that is being made and contributing to our mission in Afghanistan.” he said, noting that Georgia is one of the top contributors to NATO’s missions.

According to Stoltenberg, the elements, that will be added to our collaboration, such as the exchange of air traffic data - how we can improve the exchange of information related to air traffic radar data, are being further discussed.

“We also discussed Georgia's role in the narrow paradigm of the South Caucasus and underlined our current role in the wider dimension of the Black Sea region,” said the PM.

NATO officials congratulated Georgia on reforms’ the progress of the last few years in the context of, building democratic institutions, strengthening democratic oversight of the security services, and democratic control over the implementation of the terms and many other destinations.

He particularly emphasized the importance of judicial reform and democratic oversight of the security services.

“The good thing is that we see Georgia and NATO cooperation are even closer than before, and as we mentioned, there is more NATO in Georgia and Georgia is more represented in NATO. Step by step, we do even more together," he added.

Stoltenberg also expressed hope that the elections in Georgia will be held following international standards, since “this is important for both Georgia and NATO, and NATO partnership with Georgia makes us all safer.”

Gakharia spoke about the upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia and noted that the government “will do everything to hold free and fair elections.”