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Stoltenberg Calls on Russia to Withdraw Forces from Georgia’s Occupied Regions

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, July 20
Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) has once again called on the Russian Federation to withdraw its forces from the Georgia’s occupied regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Stoltenberg made the statement at the joint press conference with the Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, who is paying an official visit to Brussels from July 18 to July 20.

“NATO supports Georgia's security and its territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. This includes the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We call on Russia to withdraw its forces from your country,” he said.

As for Georgia’s aspirations to the alliance membership, NATO Secretary General said that at the Alliance Summit last week all 29 allies reaffirmed that Georgia would become a member of NATO.

“We continue to work with you to prepare for membership. Georgia has made an impressive progress on reforms, including on economic development, more effective security and defense institutions and modernizing your armed forces,” he said.

Moreover, Stoltenberg underlined that Georgia has for many years been one of the largest force contributors to the resolute support mission and Georgian peacekeepers helped NATO fight terrorism.

“The fact that that Georgian troops are part of the NATO response force shows that they meet the highest standards of NATO and are able to participate in NATO exercises, missions and operations,” he added and thanked PM Bakhtadze for Georgia’s contribution to global security.

In his speech, Bakhtadze underlined that Government of Georgia is fully committed to achieve NATO membership.

He thanked Stoltenberg for his support and noted that Georgia will continue its contribution to common Euro-Atlantic security.

“We are enhancing our cooperation on Black Sea Security. We will have more active naval cooperation as well as extended mutual situational awareness… we have noted that the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package - the so-called SNGP - is delivering results. At the summit we agreed to further enhance this process in areas like counter-mobility, secure communications and cyber defense,” the PM noted.

Bakhtadze said Georgia is thankful for Allies' firm stance towards Russia to reverse its recognition of the so-called independence and withdraw its military forces from occupied territories of Georgia.

“Mr. Stoltenberg reaffirmed the Alliance's strong support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said, noting that reforms successfully implemented by Georgia, together with the assistance provided by the NATO will contribute to our ultimate goal to become a full member of NATO.

Georgia’s Bakhtadze also met with President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.