Georgian, Lithuanian Defence Ministers discuss security cooperation

Georgia’s Defence Minister and his Lithuanian counterpart Juozas Olekas in Tbilisi on Oct 6, 2014. Photo by, 06 Oct 2014 - 18:02, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Defence Minister Irakli Alasania met his Lithuanian counterpart Juozas Olekas in Tbilisi and discussed the regional security situation, Georgia’s aspirations of Euro-Atlantic integration, Lithuania’s support for strengthening and transforming the Georgian Armed Forces and perspective of bilateral defence cooperation.

Among other issues, Lithuania’s support for implementing "a substantive package” NATO offered Georgia at the NATO Wales Summit in September was heavily discussed during today’s meeting, said the press office of the Georgian Defence Minister.

Alasania highlighted Georgia had achieved a greater level of NATO interoperability, which was why NATO called on Georgia to export its defensive reforms. Regional security issues were discussed at the meeting as well.

"We discussed the regional security issues, particularly those threats that our two countries witnessed after Russia’s straight aggression in Ukraine. We also focused on counter-terrorism and other threats both countries have. We have set joint ways of interaction,” Alasania said at the joint conference with his Lithuanian counterpart.

Alasania confirmed Georgia’s full readiness to deepen mutual defence cooperation with Lithuania while Olekas said both sides stressed the importance of deepening relations in the field of education and reserve system.

"Since 2008 many significant changes have taken place in Georgia. Lithuania supports Georgia’s integration into NATO. I called on my colleague to continue reforms in the defence sector in order to reach its ultimate goal - to become a member of NATO. It is important for the country to implement the decision reached at the Wales’s Summit,” Olekas said.

"NATO member states are in favour of developing Georgia’s self-defence capabilities,” he said.

Alasania expressed gratitude to Olekas for supporting Georgia’s aspirations towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

He emphasised the importance of involving Lithuanian monitors in the EUMM and supporting NATO Trust Fund project ‘Georgia IV’ as a lead nation.

Georgia’s contribution to the ISAF mission and its commitment to continue participating in the post-2014 mission in Afghanistan was also discussed.

Lithuania and Georgia signed the first agreement to launch defence cooperation in 2001.

"Lithuania sees Georgia as one of the most important partners of cooperation and provides political and practical support to Georgia’s aspiration of Euro-Atlantic integration through facilitation of reforms in Georgia’s defence system and armed forces and improvement of administrative capacity in Georgia’s security sector,” stated the press office of the Lithuanian Defence Minister.

Alasania welcomes Stoltenberg’s statement that ‘NATO can put troops wherever it wants’

Georgia’s Defence Minister is welcoming a statement by new NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that the Western Alliance could deploy its forces wherever it wants.

Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi after meeting his Lithuanian counterpart, Georgia’s Defence Minister Irakli Alasania said he supported Stoltenberg’s comments.

In Warsaw on Sunday Stoltenberg said: "Next year at the ministerial meeting, we will make decisions regarding the so-called spearhead but, even before it is established, NATO has a strong army after all. We can deploy it wherever we want to," Stoltenberg told the Poland-based broadcaster TVP Info during his Poland visit.

In response, Alansania said: "The Alliance’s member and partner countries agreed at the NATO Wales Summit that the threat that exists from Russia’s aggression in the region could contradict not only with financial sanctions but also with military deterrent.”

"This means that NATO members have to strengthen to protect their souvenir territories with bigger military units.” Alasania believed significant steps had been made in this regard in Baltic and Eastern European countries.

"The Alliance has to support partner countries develop self-defensive capabilities,” Alasania said.

Georgia’s Defence Minister believed NATO had to decide where the Alliance could deploy its forces. Meanwhile,Lithuania’s Defence Minister believed Russia’s aggression in Georgia and Ukraine had caused new challenged for Europe.

"In this regard NATO has made a decision to strengthen defence capabilities in Poland and Romania which is important for the stability of the region. I believe the Alliance’s member and partner countries including Georgia will do this with the support of NATO,” Olekas said.

He believed that if they worked together with Georgia to find resources, everyone’s efforts to make the region even more secure would eventuate.