NATO Sec-Gen in Tbilisi: hope to welcome Georgia soon into NATO, Russia must withdraw its forces from Georgia

  • Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze stated that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s visit proves that NATO-Georgia relations are at an all-time high. Photo: Prime Minister’s press office., 25 Mar 2019 - 11:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hopes Georgia can soon be welcomed into NATO, and praises the progress achieved by the country. He also urges Russia to withdraw its forces from Georgian territories.

Georgia will become a NATO member,” Stoltenberg stated during a joint press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze at the Georgian government’s administration building today, and underlined that it is only up to Georgia and NATO to make decisions about cooperation and partnership.

Stoltenberg responded to Russia’s continuous objection of NATO-Georgia relations and stated that “no third country has the right” to get involved.

It is the NATO principle that each nation has the sovereign right to make its own decisions. Each nation has the right to choose its future. When we are ready, Georgia will become a NATO member and only NATO and Georgia and no third country will make the decision,” Stoltenberg said.

He stated that Georgia has achieved big progress and the country should continue reforms in the defence, judiciary and other fields to comply with NATO standards.

I urge you to continue work and use all the opportunities [available] to become a NATO member,” Stoltenberg said.

He welcomed Georgia’s commitment to spend two per cent of its GDP for defence needs, that the parliament’s supervisory function has been boosted and the country is reforming its court system.

Stoltenberg spoke about NATO’s increased interest in the Black Sea region and stated that the cooperation between the alliance and Georgia for Black Sea Security will be particularly activated.

Bakhtadze stated that Georgia will have the Anaklia deep sea port, which will help Georgia become a regional transport hub and play a more active role in Black Sea security. Photo: Prime Minister's press office. 

Stoltenberg stated that joint NATO-Georgia joint exercises will strengthen the country defence capabilities and help Georgia integrate into the alliance.

Responding to a question on whether the occupied territories of Georgia Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) could work as obstacles for the country’s NATO integration, Stoltenberg said that Georgia should continue its democratic reforms.

Bakhtadze said that the occupied regions “must not become obstacles” for Georgia’s NATO membership.

He said that the country’s membership in NATO is the key priority for Georgia’s foreign and security policies.

NATO membership is supported by a majority of Georgians, which confirms that it is not only  a political choice, but also a choice which is based on values,” Bakhtadze said.

Bakhtadze vowed that Georgia, which is one of the largest contributors to the alliance, continues its reforms to become an alliance member and this happens amid the occupation and continued security threats by Russia.

There is a humanitarian catastrophe in the Georgian occupied regions. The population in the regions has decreased five, six times since the Russia-Georgia 2008 war,” Bakhtadze said.

He said that the Georgian government has pushed forward several initiatives to help its population in the occupied regions and to peacefully resolve conflicts.

Now, the most important thing is to put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe,” Bakhtadze said.

Stoltenberg will leave Georgia later today.