NATO Deputy Secretary General, Alexander Vershbow, met senior government officials and lawmakers in Tbilisi on January 29 to discuss reforms and implementation of the substantial package of cooperation, which the Alliance offered to Georgia at its summit in Wales.
Setting up of a joint “training and evaluation center” in Georgia is part of that package.
“Georgia and we are committed to have this center up and running later this year,” Vershbow said after meeting with PM Irakli Garibashvili.
“It will help Georgia to reform, modernize and strengthen security and defense sector and it will also be open to other NATO allies and to some other NATO partners as well since Georgia’s geography and the high quality of its own armed forces together create unique possibilities to train together broad group of partners and allies and to foster cooperation and interoperability,” he said, adding that he will be visiting one of the possible locations of this center on January 30.
“It [the joint training center] will also be a visible demonstration of NATO’s commitment to Georgia,” Vershbow said.
Speaking after meeting with PM Garibashvili, the NATO deputy secretary general hailed Georgia for being “exporter of security” and for “remarkable democratic and defense reforms.”
“So today we see a more mature democracy here in Georgia,” he said. “I very much welcome the determination of political leaders of this country to continue to follow along this course. I encourage all parties, all Georgians to cooperate for the benefit of people of this country, making sure that your institutions meet the highest democratic standards.”
“Priority has to be to implement reforms across the board, not only in the defense sector; it means a clear commitment to rule of law, to improving governance at any level,” Vershbow said.
PM Garibashvili reiterated that integration into NATO “is a firm choice of the Georgian people and we are doing everything in order to achieve this goal.”
Also on November 29, NATO deputy secretary general met Defense Minister Mindia Janelidze; State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Davit Bakradze; parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili and senior lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties, as well as representatives of UNM opposition party.
Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, said that Georgia has “quite ambitious plans” within substantial package of cooperation with NATO.
“We’ve heard from the deputy secretary general that all the NATO-member states are ready to implement their commitments under this package,” Usupashvili said.
“We also spoke about situation in region… Threats in our region have increased, not decreased,” Usupashvili said, adding that situation in Ukraine was also discussed in this context.
The parliament speaker also said that there is a consensus among political groups in the Parliament that “NATO integration has no alternative for Georgia.”
“This is an important message for everyone… both for friends and enemies,” Usupashvili said.
Speaking after the meeting with the Georgian lawmakers, the NATO deputy secretary general said: “We stressed that we want to work with all the political forces in Georgia to help move Georgia along the path towards NATO’s open door.”
“A lot of the things that need to happen here in terms of democratic reforms, reform of the judicial system, reform of the ministry of interior and prosecutor’s office – all these things should unite political parties as well, because they are important for strengthening Georgia’s democratic system, which is just as important as military interoperability in terms of preparations for NATO membership,” Vershbow said.