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Ambassador Norland Visits Supsa Fusion Center (June 24)

Wednesday, June 25
On June 24, Ambassador Norland joined Minister of Interior Alexander Chikaidze and Minister of Finance Nodar Khaduri in a ceremony at the Georgian Coast Guard base in Poti to mark the handover of heavy maintenance vehicles and vessel haul out facility from the U.S. Government to the Ministry of Internal Affairs Border Police, as well as visit the Fusion Center in Supsa. The maintenance vehicles and vessel haul out facility in Poti will help to strengthen border security by allowing The Coast Guard more flexibility in planning and executing routine and emergency maintenance.

During the ceremony in Supsa, Ambassador Norland said, "Thank you all for your interest today. I'm here with other members of the U.S. Government, from our military and civilian side, who have been working together with the Georgian government and the Georgian armed forces to build this fusion center here which will enable the Georgian government and us, working in partnership, to have a full picture of what is going on in the immediate Black Sea region, as a way of enhancing security and maritime awareness in this region. It is an international waterway and it is of growing strategic importance because of the new silk road and other factors. And for us to be able to work together with our Georgian partners to enhance the commercial security of the region, the ability of shipping to pass through safely is extremely important. You know, on Friday, Georgia will sign the association agreement with the European Union and that not only brings Georgia a little closer to Europe, it brings Europe and European interests closer to this part of the Black Sea. And to have a joint capability to monitor the maritime domain here is extremely important for all the partners in this region. We are delighted to have Minister Chikaidze, Minister Khaduri here today, the head of the border police and the coast guard and to all of our Georgian partners, I say Gilotsavt and Didi Madloba!"

The equipment in Poti and the Fusion center in Supsa was provided by the Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security Office (EXBS). Designed to help countries develop and improve their strategic trade and related border control systems, EXBS assists the Government of Georgia in five core areas which include, Laws and Regulations, Licensing , Enforcement , Government-Industry Cooperation , and Interagency and International Cooperation and Coordination.

The vessel haul out lift and lay down area in Poti was provided by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Primary DTRA Programs active in Georgia are the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP), the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation Prevention Program (WMD PPP), the International Counterproliferation Program (ICP), and Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Consequence Management.

Q on separatist South Ossetia planning a referendum to join Russia.

Ambassador Norland: "From the United States point of view, all I can say is that we completely support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. We do not recognize the occupied territories as separate independent entities and we are not really sure what significance this referendum would have at all. Rather than focus on gestures, it's more important for the people on each side of the boundary line to find ways to work together, cooperate together and to reduce some of the terrible poverty that exists in the region along both sides of the boundary line."

Q on NATO allegedly considering offering Georgia an intensive cooperation program, rather than MAP.

Ambassador Norland: "You know the NATO Summit in Wales is not until September. So, a lot can happen between now and then. I know the foreign ministers are meeting soon. I can't tell you what they are going to decide collectively, but I can say that we are very confident that Georgia's continued progress in meeting all of the criteria for NATO membership will receive appropriate recognition."

Q on MoD's new strategic document and how secure Georgia is from trans-national crimes.

Ambassador Norland: "I'm not specifically familiar with which document you are referring to, but what we have been doing today here with developing Georgia's maritime surveillance and operational capability is part of a broad effort to enhance Georgian law enforcement capabilities to deal with trafficking in narcotics, trafficking in persons, trafficking in contraband. And we are confident that Georgia is a very good partner in all those efforts."

Q on Georgia proposing NATO deploying its defense capabilities in Georgia, but U.S. officials allegedly saying only NATO members can host those capabilities.

Ambassador Norland: "I'm not sure I know what you are talking about. I think there's ongoing discussions about ways in which the United States and Georgia can work together to enhance Georgia's self-defense capabilities and nothing specific has been decided beyond what is already a very robust program of military to military cooperation." (US Embassy)