NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia Robert Simmons said on May 25 that Georgia has made “significant step forward” in defense and security reforms envisaged by the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO.
“I won’t hide from you that that has been a difficult process… But particularly in the last six months, your government and the Defense Ministry have taken significant steps forward in that regard,” Simmons said.
He was speaking at the Tbilisi conference on role of civil society in Euro-Atlantic integration process, organized by New Generation–New Initiative non-governmental organization in cooperation with NATO and Bulgarian Embassy in Tbilisi.
Simmons said that at the same time other aspects of the reform targets should also be addressed.
“Developing an inventory of the assets you have, both in terms of manpower and in fact real inventory, that is the equipment you have and the bases you have, and considering how it is necessary to make changes. Secondly, it is important to look at the budgeting system, so that in fact the increasing budgets that you do have are spent in the right areas and effectively,” the NATO envoy said.
Robert Simmons noted that implementation of the reform targets set by IPAP will help Georgia to move to next stage, which is an Intensified Dialogue (ID) with NATO. ID is viewed as a precursor to being invited to enter the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), which should lead to the alliance membership.
“I am well aware that the government wants to move forward to the next step to intensify dialogue. That requires your decision, and you have made that clear, and the consensus of the alliance, and we’re not there yet. But it is a process where there is strong support within the alliance and we and the international staff want to help you carry out,” Robert Simmons said.
“Allies recognize that Georgia is a Euro-Atlantic country, has made significant strides towards reform, and want to encourage that… And having been an active and effective participant in IPAP means that it will be easier for you to transform to the next stages, including the Intensified Dialogue,” he added.