Jens Stoltenberg delivering opening remarks before the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting, December 6, 2017. Photo: NATO
“NATO is grateful for Georgia’s many contributions to Euro-Atlantic security, especially the service of the highly-skilled men and women of the Georgian military,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the press on December 6, following the meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission – a regular forum for political consultations and practical cooperation between the Alliance and Georgia.
The Commission, held at the level of Foreign Ministers at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, examined the NATO-Georgia cooperation and the security situation facing the country, including the challenges in and around the Black Sea. The Commission also reviewed the implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which, according to the Secretary General, “is strengthening Georgia’s defense institutions, and assisting it on its path towards membership in the Alliance.”
Opening the Commission meeting, the Secretary General said the Alliance was “strongly committed to Georgia’s security and territorial integrity.” He also congratulated the country “on the continuing progress it is making on reforms.”
Jens Stoltenberg reiterated the messages in his remarks after the meeting, saying the Alliance remains “concerned by the deepening of Russia’s relations with the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia,” and calling on the Russian Federation “to end its recognition of these regions and withdraw its forces from Georgian territory.”
The Secretary General also noted that NATO Foreign Ministers discussed “progress Georgia continues to make along the path of reform, including with its successful efforts to modernize its armed forces.” “The Alliance is fully committed to providing Georgia with the advice and tools it needs to advance toward eventual NATO membership,” he added.
Jens Stoltenberg said that the Alliance “continues to benefit from Georgia’s advice on security issues relating to the Black Sea,” and that Georgia and NATO are engaged “in increasingly close dialogue on the Black Sea region and the cooperation in the region.”
The Secretary General touched upon the NATO-Russia relations as well, saying the Foreign Ministers agreed that the approach to Russia “decided at the Warsaw Summit in 2016 – defense and dialogue – has been effective.”
Pleased to have a great discussion w/ #NATO FMs in the #NGC format on the progress of #Georgia in democracy, economy, defence & in implementation of #SNGP that brings us closer to membership in NATO & encourages allies to strengthen support & recommit to Bucharest decision. pic.twitter.com/qbPEQGY21a— Mikheil Janelidze (@JanelidzeMkh) December 6, 2017
Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, who attended the Commission on behalf of Georgia, held a bilateral meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, as well as his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano.
According to the Minister, “Georgia’s progress was very positively evaluated by all NATO allies, both in terms of democratic consolidation and economic development, as well as the military and defense reforms.” “Many [of my] counterparts have noted that Georgia’s reforms and steps contribute to the country’s success, brings it closer to NATO, its final objective and introduces NATO standard in our country,” Mikheil Janelidze added.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was present at the NATO-Georgia Commission as well, said in his press briefing after the meeting that “Georgia is largest per capita contributor to the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan; we strongly support Georgia’s aspirations to become NATO member. We strongly support the open door policy. No third party should have anything to say about a country’s pursuit of NATO membership.”