NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has stated that he will visit Georgia, which is a “unique partner of NATO”, in March 2019, during the NATO-Georgia joint military drills, in which 17 NATO member states will participate.
Stoltenberg made the statement during a joint press conference with Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili in Brussels today.
My visit aims to further strengthen the NATO-Georgia relations and demonstrate that NATO remains committed to the decision of the Bucharest summit- that Georgia will become a member of the alliance,” Stoltenberg said.
He stated that it is the sovereign decision of Georgia to be the member of NATO and no other state has the right to oppose it, mentioning Russia in the context.
#Georgia ???????? makes strong contributions to our shared security:— Oana Lungescu (@NATOpress) January 23, 2019
▶️ One of the largest troop contributors to our training mission in #Afghanistan
▶️ Contributing to the #NATO Response Force
▶️ Hosting a NATO-Georgia exercise in March pic.twitter.com/d6Y3yOygbx
Stoltenberg thanked Zurabishvili for Georgia’s contributions to NATO’s peace mission in Afghanistan and to the NATO Response Force, and for hosting an upcoming joint exercise in March.
He welcomed the country’s progress on reform, and pledged NATO’s support as Georgia continues to prepare for membership in the alliance.
Zurabishvili stated that her visit to NATO reveals the choice of the Georgian people and thanked Stoltenberg and NATO for their support for the country.
Two per cent of Georgian GDP is spent on defence and 20 per cent of the Defence Ministry budget is spent for armament. Sometimes we do more for the alliance than some of its members. The cooperation and support are mutual and we appreciate what is being done by the alliance to upgrade Georgia’s self-defense capabilities,” Zurabishvili said.
She stated that Stoltenberg’s visit to Georgia will make it “more visible” for the Georgian people that “NATO is with us".