James Appathurai, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia for the past 10 years, is holding his last meetings in Georgia in the role.
He has already met with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, President Salome Zurabishvili, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and the country’s opposition.
Welcoming @JamesAppathurai on his visit to #Tbilisi. Discussed the @NATO-Georgia co-op, Black Sea Security, as well as ????????'s significant achievements on its Euro-Atlantic path & the need to move forward on the political dimension of the integration process.— Irakli Garibashvili (@GharibashviliGe) July 2, 2021
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has awarded Appathurai with the order of the Golden Fleece for his special contribution to strengthen NATO-Georgia relations and the support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Zalkaliani has described Appathurai as ‘a big friend of Georgia, who has done his utmost to make Georgia’s NATO integration progress irreversible.’
He said that this year’s NATO summit has once again reaffirmed that the alliance’s door remains open for Georgia and that the country has ‘all practical instruments for NATO membership.’
Georgia is now actively preparing for the next summit of NATO and we believe that in the open-door policy context the summit should more clearly underline the progress Georgia has achieved on its path to the alliance,” Zalkaliani said.
Happy to welcome @JamesAppathurai on hist last visit as @NATO SG Special Rep.& hold a productive meeting regarding????????'s success on t/NATO integration path, importance of fruitful regional coop, existing challenges& prospects for their eradication. Grateful for your strong support! pic.twitter.com/R8o7LwtD4s— David Zalkaliani (@DZalkaliani) July 2, 2021
Appathurai has confirmed that over the past 10 years Georgia has achieved ‘very obvious and significant progress’ towards NATO integration.
He stated that this year’s NATO summit communique was ‘clearer, more focused on details and the challenges the country is facing, including the occupation issues’.
Appathurai said that NATO ‘properly evaluates’ Georgia's role in the region, including the recent efforts of the country for Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict resolution.
Besides, it is important for us (for NATO) to strengthen cooperation for the Black sea region security. We know that the situation got complicated because of Russia. NATO will continue to support Georgia,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry cited Appathurai as saying.
Lelo opposition party MP Badri Japaridze has stated that ‘we directly told Appathurai that the building of democratic institutions is actually suspended in Georgia.’
He also said that the opposition informed Appathurai that the ‘ruling Georgian Dream party hampers the implementation of the April 19 EU-mediated agreement, especially the sections of the agreement which concern the justice field.’