Implementation of package of enhanced cooperation offered by NATO to Georgia at the summit in Wales was discussed in meetings between top NATO commander, General Philip Breedlove, and the Georgian leadership in Tbilisi on October 22, officials said after the talks.
U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, who is NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. forces in Europe, met Defense Minister Irakli Alasania and then also held talks with PM Irakli Garibashvili with participation of other senior officials, including interior and justice ministers.
“The partnership that Georgia has made with NATO remains rock solid,” Gen. Breedlove said after the meeting with the Defense Minister.
Defense Minister Alasania said after the meeting: “We have discussed timely implementation of establishment of joint [NATO-Georgia] training center in Georgia; we have also discussed how we are going to jointly plan regular military exercises together with NATO. Of course we have also discussed regional security, especially in the context of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and developments in Syria and Iraq; we also spoke about how NATO and Georgia will continue joint efforts to address these threats.”
Gen. Breedlove said that the “substantial package” agreed at the NATO summit in Wales will help Georgia “advance in its preparation towards membership” in the Alliance. Key initiatives include, he said, establishment of defense capacity building mission in Georgia with the particular focus on the Ministry of Defense and assistance to Georgia in continued reform and modernization of its defense and security sector. He said that the package will also help Georgia to increase its interoperability with NATO through “more Georgian participation in NATO exercises and military exercises in Georgia.”
Alasania said that Georgian Deputy Defense Minister, Mikheil Darchiashvili, presented implementation plan of the package at the NATO headquarters this week. He said that the plan, which also includes setting up of a joint NATO-Georgian training center, will be presented to NATO foreign ministers tentatively in December and then the plan is expected to be finally approved when NATO defense ministers meet in February, 2015. Alasania said that for the proposed training center, an assessment team from NATO will arrive to examine infrastructure available in Georgia.
Gen. Breedlove said that the issue of training center was discussed “at the operational level.”
In his opening remarks at a news conference after the meeting with the Georgian Defense Minister, the top NATO commander stressed on security challenges in the region.
“As Georgians know better than most these are very difficult times in Europe as Russia has again moved into a sovereign nation, illegally annexed a part of it and used military force to impose its will,” Gen. Breedlove said.
“NATO is keenly aware of this persistent threat and is taking actions now to ensure that NATO nations can respond rapidly to these sorts of threats in the future,” he added.