The NATO Deputy Secretary General believes all tools are in place for Georgia to move forward with its aspiration to integrate into Euro-Atlantic structures.
NATO high official Alexander Vershbow was interviewed by the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) Moambe news program where he spoke about his upcoming visit to Tbilisi and the NATO training centre planned to be established in Georgia.
The Alliance again reaffirmed its commitment to the decision adopted at the 2008 Bucharest Summit to support Georgia as it moved towards becoming a NATO member, and underlined that the Alliance strongly supported Georgia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations, Vershbow told Georgian journalists in Brussels.
Vershbow believed the NATO training centre in Georgia would be operational by the end of 2015 and would have symbolic, political and practical importance.
The exact opening date and place where the joint training centre will be established has not been yet decided, Vershbow told GPB, and added that more details would be known after his visit to Tbilisi on January 29.
We are still working on the model of cooperation in practice. I can tell you that these countries will have access to NATO consultations, they will participate in different types of exercises, which in turn will help the armed forces to [move] closer to NATO standards," Vershbow said.
The NATO official stated Georgia had made a significant contribution to strengthening Euro-Atlantic security and spoke positively of Georgia's participation to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and the subsequent new, NATO-led Resolute Support mission.
I do not want to speculate about this issue. I think after we select the proper place the centre will start functioning and this will happen by the end of 2015. We think that this is a demonstration of NATO’s attitude towards Georgia. As well, this will recognise the high quality of Georgia’s Armed Forces, which have repeatedly [contributed to] our operations, for example in Afghanistan,” he said.
Moreover, the Alliance expressed its readiness to take an active part as Georgia moved to implement the substantial package offered by NATO at the Wales Summit last year.
My biggest disappointment was that I did not manage to visit Georgia last year. A visit is the best way to assess Georgia as a NATO ally country and its progress on its path to NATO aspiration. Now we will have experts and an adviser group in Georgia. We will work together on opening a NATO-Georgia joint training centre. We encourage the Georgian side in this process. We will prepare ... a place to conduct joint exercises on Georgia’s territory,” NATO Deputy Secretary General said.
In Tbilisi Vershbow will discuss ways to strengthen democratic institutions, the rule of law and the country's judicial system.
When I talk about strengthening democratic institutions, the rule of law, judicial reform, of course, more needs to be done. These are issues that should unite the whole society, therefore a team approach is needed and everyone should take responsibility to carry out reforms. We want to see Georgia’s continuing progress in the direction of European and Euro-Atlantic standards,” Vershbow said.
Vershbow is expected to arrive in the Georgian capital on January 29 and while here he will meet Georgian high officials and discuss Georgia's implementation of the Substantial Package NATO offered to Georgia at the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014.