NATO envoy gives further details of Georgia support package

James Appathurai during a working visit in Tbilisi on May 1, 2014. Photo MFA Facebook, 09 Jul 2014 - 17:56, Tbilisi,Georgia

NATO’s regional envoy for the Caucasus region has offered his reassurances to the Georgian nation that the country will become more secure following the NATO Summit in Wales later this year.

NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia region, James Appathurai arrived in Tbilisi earlier today for his last Georgia visit before the NATO Wales Summit in September.

He discussed details related to the "unprecedented package” being offered to Georgia at the Summit with Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, Defence Minister Irakli Alasania and European and Euro Atlantic Integration Minister Alex Petriashvili.

Appathurai said the offered package would see NATO enhance its presence in Georgia, which in turn would see Georgia have the largest NATO presence than in any other non-member country.

"What we will agree at the Wales Summit will mean more NATO presence in Georgia in a more concrete way. It will mean more Georgia in NATO, in NATO strategic discussions, in NATO structures [and] exercises, and it will clearly show in the language that Georgia is moving closer to NATO and moving further along the path of Euro-Atlantic integration.”

Speaking to media after meeting Minister Petriashvili, Appathuria told no final decisions had been made on how the NATO support package would enhance Georgia’s defensive capabilities, but said Georgia’s security would be enhanced following the September Summit.

"NATO already has a presence here, which is quite substantial, [and] I believe after the decision is taken in Wales, [NATO] will not only have a bigger presence here, but I think NATO will have a bigger presence in Georgia than in any other non-member country. I think that’s going to be quite clear. So that alone should provide reassurance to the Georgian people of our commitment at the very least.”

Appathuria confirmed he had received a bipartisan letter today from a broad spectrum of local society that demanded NATO take more concrete, active steps to assist Georgia rather than rhetoric, to which he responded the letter would be carefully scrutinised.

"First, I welcome the letter in part because it is a bipartisan letter, with opposition and pro-Government supporters and it shows how unified society is in its Euro-Atlantic path and I’ve just discussed that with Minister Petriashvili, so we welcome it and will look at it closely … but actually I share the fundamental sentiment that more concrete progress needs to be made and I discussed that carefully with the Minister today.”

"Georgia’s had such a big success with the European Union recently for which I congratulate you, but actually I think it’s important to note how much success Georgia has had in moving closer towards NATO in preparing for membership.”

Appathuria said NATO presented Georgia’s progress to member Foreign Ministries, and made it clear Georgia had "steadily prepared for membership, met more and more of the standards for membership and moved closer to NATO – there’s no doubt about that”, but said more steps still needed to be taken before Georgia could become a member of NATO.