Pace of implementation of substantial package of cooperation with Georgia, approved by NATO at its summit in Wales, is “very good” and both the Alliance and the Georgian authorities are moving “fast” in this process, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, said.
In an online question and answer session, hosted by Tbilisi-based think tank Atlantic Council of Georgia, Appathurai said that NATO experts are helping Georgia to set up the joint training center, members of the NATO core team of experts for defence capacity building assistance to the Georgian MoD have been identified and will “soon” be in the country, NATO Liaison Office “is being beefed up” and NATO exercises will be held in Georgia this summer.
“NATO doesn’t always do things quickly, but in this case we have,” he said. “And the Georgian government has been just as fast and just as committed.”
Appathurai also said that countries like Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, are “facing strong pressure from Russia to change their political course.”
“We also believe in NATO that all three countries deserve more support to develop their defence capacities. I would say that of the three, Georgia is receiving by far the most defence capacity building support from NATO, and, I would add, making the most of it,” he said.
“In essence, there will be more NATO in Georgia, both in terms of visibility and concrete support. If individual countries decide to offer bilateral support to Georgia, in terms of equipment or training, that will only complement the NATO effort,” Appathurai said.
A NATO assessment team visited Georgia in mid-March and together with the Georgian MoD officials looked at the potential sites, scope and mission of the joint training and evaluation and training center, which is one of the components of the substantial package.