NATO Deputy Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia region James Appathurai said in Tbilisi today that he believed the Alliance would discuss whether NATO allies should deploy "defensive assets” in Georgia.
Appathurai announced this in response to the Georgian Defence Minister Irakli Alasania’s suggestion to put "air defense and anti-armour capabilities in Georgia," which he made in Washington at the Atlantic Council's conference "Toward a Europe Whole and Free” on Wednesday.
"This is something we need to put in Georgia and then Russians will understand that you are serious,” Alasania said in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine at the panel discussion of the conference.
Appathurai, who is on a one-day working visit in Georgia, said he would deliver this message to members of the Alliance.
"I would like to focus that NATO does not have its own defensive assets, in particular the Alliance allies have such assets. NATO can always support organising this as it was in the case of Turkey during the crisis in Syria,” Appathurai said at the joint conference with Georgia’s Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze.
"Defence Minister Alasania’s message was clear and I believe the issue will be discussed at NATO,” he added.
Patriot anti-missile batteries have been deployed in Turkey to protect the country's airspace from a potential missile strike from neighboring Syria.
Panjikidze believed the Defence Minister’s initiative aroused interest in the Alliance.
"The issue has merit to be discussed,” Panjikidze said after the meeting with Appathurai.She said the outcomes expected to eventuate from the September 2014 NATO Summit in Wales was the main discussed issue during the meeting.
Speaking at the news conference, Appathurai said the Alliance would assess the progress made by NATO aspirant countries before the Wales Summit.
"The overall assessment by NATO is positive. Year after year Georgia continues to improve and that’s because of the hard work done in this country,” Appathurai said.
He highlighted that "what Russia said or did would not influence their decision” over NATO’s open-door policy.
"We have consistently assessed Georgia’s progress based on two things – reforms and Georgia’s contribution to international peace and security and those will remain the prisms through which we look at this process. In other words we will judge Georgia on Georgia’s merits regardless of what’s happening elsewhere and regardless of comments from the Kremlin or elsewhere,” he said.
It is expected Appathurai held meeting with the President, Prime Minister and Ministers on the regional security issues and cooperation.