Georgia is a "strong and reliable contributor to the shared security” so "NATO counts on Georgia and Georgia can count on NATO.”
These words were spoken by the top official of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in the Georgian capital Tbilisi this afternoon.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is in Tbilisi to officially open the NATO-Georgian Joint Training and Evaluation Centre in Krtsanisi Military Facility later today.
In the meantime Stoltenberg met Georgia’s Prime Minister, Foreign and Defence Ministers and other high officials and had wide-ranging discussions on, as he put it, "our close partnership”, Georgia’s reform path and the security situation in the region.
The meeting between Stoltenberg and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili was followed by a joint press briefing where the NATO top official stressed the role of Georgian servicemen in NATO-led operations.
"Your troops have stood shoulder to shoulder with NATO for many years,” he said.
"Georgia is now the second largest contributor to our Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. I know this has meant real sacrifices for many Georgian soldiers and their families. We honour their sacrifice and we are grateful for their service.”
The NATO official also said the inauguration of the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre would be a "significant step” towards deepening further NATO-Georgia cooperation.
"It will help make Georgia and Georgian forces even more capable and more modern. And it will also strengthen cooperation between NATO and partner nations, to contribute to international peace and security.”
He noted allied experts were working intensively with the Georgian Ministry of Defence to support the country’s defence reform.
"So there is more Georgia in NATO and more NATO in Georgia,” Stoltenberg said.
"All the commitments we have made together are on track and on time. And all these efforts help Georgia to move closer to your aspiration of NATO membership.”
"Georgia has the necessary tools to continue to move towards membership. And you are making use of them.”
At the press conference Stoltenberg added NATO closely followed Georgia’s reforms, including the amendments to the judiciary system.
"I welcome the remarkable progress you have made and I look forward to continued progress,” he said.
"Also when it comes to constitutional and electoral reforms. As you undertake these challenging reforms we will continue to support you.”
Prime Minister Garibashvili stressed the opening of the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre in Georgia would not be directed against any third party but would only be focused on creating regional and global security.
Earlier this year Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said any attempt to bring Georgia into NATO would not contribute to the stability in the South Caucasus and added Russia was ready to respond to any attempt to "lure” Georgia into the Alliance.
Meanwhile after the press briefing, Garibashvili and Stoltenberg took the air gondola up to Mtatsminda hill and the pair enjoyed the view over Tbilisi.