NATO Sec-Gen Caucasus Rep lauds ties with Georgia, pledges “as strong a cooperation as possible”

Javier Colomina, NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, stressed the bloc “highly valued” its ties with Georgia. Photo: RFE/RL, 25 Dec 2023 - 12:45, Tbilisi,Georgia

Javier Colomina, NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, on Sunday lauded the alliance’s “very good relations” with Georgia and stressed the bloc was motivated to make the existing partnership with Tbilisi “as strong as possible”. 

In an interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster, the official stressed the bloc “highly valued” its ties with Georgia and “all tools” were being utilised in the cooperation. He highlighted the partnership included both practical cooperation and joint efforts for cyber and maritime security, the upgrade of domestic special operations forces and work against cyber threats. 

Speaking about Georgia’s prospects to join the alliance, he pledged the bloc’s commitment to its 2008 decision “in which we clearly stated that Georgia and Ukraine will at some point become members”. He claimed the bloc was expected to make the “political decision” once Tbilisi met the outlined reform agenda. 

Highlighting the importance of the Black Sea region for NATO, the official stressed it was “of strategic importance” for the alliance, an approach he said was “clearly written” in its strategic concept approved at the Madrid Summit in 2022. 

He noted before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, NATO was conducting naval exercises in the sea, with its ships anchored in Georgian ports. 

We cooperated closely in the maritime field. It is not possible now, but the Black Sea is still relevant for NATO, it is a constituent part of our military plans and the Black Sea is part of the discussions we have with both NATO member states and partners in the region”, Colomina said. 

In response to Russia’s announced plans to deploy a naval base in Georgia’s occupied Abkhazia region, Colomina claimed the alliance would “act” if attacked from the territory. 

He highlighted NATO was “very clear” in its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, adding “this is a consistent message coming from Brussels”, once again expressing his condolences over the killing of a Georgian citizen by Russian-controlled occupation forces in November. 

Commenting on the possibility that beside Ukraine, Russia could also invade Georgia, Colomina stressed “today we see no danger of that. We do not see a threat that Russia is going to invade Georgia”. 

However, Colomina pointed to possible risks of hybrid attacks, cyberspace interference and “malicious interference” from Russia and stressed that was why the Alliance approved the support tailored to those needs at the Madrid Summit. 

Extending his congratulations to Georgia on obtaining the European Union membership candidate status this month, the official highlighted the bloc was expecting “fair, competitive and free” parliamentary elections next year in the country.