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Georgia in NATO Secretary General’s annual report, Georgian PM meets NATO Sec-Gen

By Khatia Bzhalava
Thursday, March 18
On March 17, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg released his Annual Report for 2020, which includes a paragraph on Georgia, mainly regarding the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP). The report reads that throughout 2020, NATO remained committed to supporting NATO membership of Georgia and Ukraine, in line with the 2008 decision of the Bucharest Summit of 2008, and subsequent Summits.

The report underlines that the door to NATO is open to all European democracies that share the values of the Alliance, are ready and able to take the responsibilities and obligations of membership, and whose inclusion can contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.

According to NATO Secretary General’s report, Practical cooperation continued under the framework of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which aims to strengthen Georgia's defense capabilities and prepare Georgia for eventual NATO membership. In addition to implementing the existing initiatives, Georgia and the Alliance worked to update the SNGP, “turning it into a more ambitious, more coherent, more targeted package, which better reflects the priorities of both Georgia and the Alliance.” As the report states, the updated package contains 16 initiatives in total, three more than in the previous version. The new initiatives include military medical capacity development, English language skill development, standardization, and codification.

According to the report, the refreshed package also envisages strengthening assistance to Georgia, including developing a cyber-lab, establishing secure communications between Georgia and NATO, training military engineers, and improving maritime and airspace situational awareness.

The Secretary General’s report emphasized that NATO supports the eventual NATO membership of Georgia as well as Ukraine. For its part, Georgia continues to provide significant support to NATO’s operations and missions such as the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and Operation Sea Guardian. Georgia also contributes to the NATO Response Force. The report notes NATO’s Multinational Military Police Battalion (Poland) and the Ministry of Defence of Georgia have signed a partnership agreement to support the development of Georgia’s military police battalions.

Yesterday, within the framework of the Georgian delegation’s visit to Brussels, Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili met with NATO Secretary-General at the NATO Headquarters. Later at a joint press conference, Stoltenberg said that Georgia is one of NATO’s most important partners. He underscored that NATO supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders. In this regard, he stressed that NATO continues to call on Russia to end its recognition of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to withdraw all its forces.

Stoltenberg also touched upon the recent developments in Georgia, including the detention of the head of the major opposition party, which, as he said, is concerning the allies. According to Stoltenberg, NATO expects Georgia to uphold the democratic standards it has worked hard to develop in recent years. He stated that Georgia should resolve the political differences through dialogue, avoiding divisive rhetoric and actions. NATO Secretary-General called on the Georgian PM to work with the opposition to find common ground and common solutions.

PM Garibashvili stated that membership of NATO is Georgia's top foreign and security priority, “a priority so important that it is enshrined in our constitution.” According to him, Georgia has all the practical tools to prepare for membership and is one of the closest and most reliable partners of the Alliance.

The PM welcomed NATO’s increased presence in the Black Sea region.

“NATO's presence in the Black Sea is a strong factor that brings an equally stabilizing effect for countries in the region. European security cannot be complete without a secure and stable Black Sea,” said Garibashvili.

The PM stressed that 860 Georgian men and women have been serving side by side along with Allied military servicemen in Afghanistan, which, according to him, proves Georgia’s ability to share the burden of collective defense through the ongoing NATO-led operations. NATO Secretary-General expressed gratitude for such contribution and the commitment of Georgia over many years.