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The Secretary-General of NATO Visits Georgia.

By Inga Kakulia
Tuesday, March 26
The Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg visited Tbilisi to observe NATO-Georgia forces training as well as to hold an official meeting with the Georgian officials. Norwegian politician landed in Tbilisi on 24th of March. The Secretary-General met with the Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze the same evening for Dinner. On 25th Jens Stoltenberg and Mamuka Bakhtadze held a joint press meeting. According to the statement of Secretary-General, Georgia is a special partner for NATO. Stoltenberg highlighted the importance of the NATO-Georgia exercise and added that this demonstrated the ability of the Georgian armed forces to opera side-by-side with the allies and other partners.

“You are the largest non-NATO contributor to our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. You contribute to the NATO Response Force. And the NATO-Georgia exercise this week demonstrates that we are stepping up our cooperation.” -said the Secretary-General After the meeting with the Prime Minister of Georgia at the Government Chancellery.

“We will continue working together to prepare for Georgia's NATO membership," Stoltenberg said, adding that no country has the right to influence NATO's open-door policy.

Jen Stoltenberg welcomed the strengthening of Parliament’s role in overseeing the security sector as well as the commitment of the Georgian government to spend 2% of GDP on defense. The Secretary-General mentioned that he was glad to hear about the reform of Georgia’s judiciary.

During his speech, Mr. Stoltenberg once again expressed NATO’s full support of Georgia’s territorial integrity and called upon Russia to withdraw its forces from the occupied territories. The secretary-general shares Georgia’s concerns about Russia’s military build-up in the Black Sea region and therefore welcomes the strengthening cooperation between Georgian and NATO naval forces through providing training for Georgian Coats guard Boarding team as well as cooperation between Georgia’s Joint Maritime Operations Centre and NATO maritime Command.

“ I look forward to continuing working with you as Georgia moves closer to NATO,” said The secretary general at the end of his speech at the Government Chancellery.

The Prime Minister of Georgia and The Secretary-General also attended the NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019 and met with armed forces members that have been wounded and injured during international missions.

“Today, Afghanistan is no longer a shelter for terrorists. Without Georgian soldiers this would be impossible to achieve” said Stoltenberg after thanking the soldiers for their service.

Despite meeting with the Prime Minister, The Secretary-General of Nato also met with the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili at the Atoenli Residence. Jens Stoltenberg is the first guest of the high rank who was hosted by the president Zurabishvili the presidential residence. Ambassador of Georgia in NATO, Aleksandre Maisuradze, Head of the armed forces Vladimer Chachibaia, Defense minister Levan Izoria, and the Minister of foreign Affairs Davit Zalkaliani as well as Head of the Presidential administration Lasha Zhvania and the Deputy Head of the administration, Qetevan Makharashvili also attended the meeting.

From NATO’s side, the meeting was attended by the Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai, the head of the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia Rosaria Puglisi, Euro Atlantic and World Partnership Officer of NATO Department of Political Affairs and Security Policy Stefan Elgers, Deputy Director of Office of Secretary-General Krisztian Meszaros and NATO Deputy Spokesperson Piers Cazalet.

Jens Stoltenberg also met with the Chairman of the Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze. During the meeting, The parties discussed ongoing democratic reforms in Georgia and EU and NATO integration process. Mr. Stoltenberg gave the positive assessment to the reforms in Georgia and underlined that Georgia shall necessarily become the NATO member as it is the clear message of NATO member states.