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NATO, Georgia Open Joint Training Center
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 27 Aug.'15 / 16:41

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg delivers speech opening ceremony of the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center at the Krtsanisi military facility outside Tbilisi, August 27, 2015. Photo: NATO

Visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Georgian leadership have inaugurated NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center (JTEC) at the already existing military facility outside Tbilisi.

Located at the Krtsanisi National Training Center, where U.S. marines have been providing training to the Georgian troops for over a decade already, JTEC is not yet fully operational.

The center, which is part of the “substantial package” of cooperation, offered to Georgia at the NATO summit in Wales in September, is designed for training of Georgian, NATO and its partner nations’ troops.

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg said that at the Wales summit NATO has promised Georgia “substantial support to advance its defence reforms.”

“Today marks another concrete step in realizing that promise,” he said.

“More work remains to be done before this Centre is fully up and running,” Stoltenberg said at the JTEC opening ceremony in Krtsanisi, which was also attended by President Giorgi Margvelashvili, PM Irakli Garibashvili and other senior Georgian officials.

“Of course, the Centre will be more than this building and its offices,” he continued. “It will include training sites and ranges all across Georgia.”

Chief of the General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Vakhtang Kapanadze has said previously that along with infrastructure at the Krtsanisi training center, facilities available at the Vaziani training area, outside Tbilisi, will also be used for the JTEC.

In its initial phase JTEC is currently led by 6 NATO officers from Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, and Norway, and 8 Georgian military officers.

According to NATO, training of Georgian military units at the JTEC is expected to start in 2016, with the first group receiving certification by the middle of next year. In 2016 the JTEC will also help facilitate joint exercises between troops from Georgia, NATO and partner nations.

“With the inauguration of the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre, our cooperation will grow deeper,” the NATO Secretary General said.

Stoltenberg added that with this center “NATO will be more present, in Georgia, and we will be more visible in Georgia.”

The Georgian infantry company, which is part of the NATO’s Response Force (NRF), was present at the ceremony.

Soldiers from the Georgian infantry company, which is part of the NATO’s Response Force (NRF), at the opening ceremony of the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center at the Krtsanisi military facility outside Tbilisi, August 27, 2015. Photo: NATO

Addressing Georgian soldiers, President Giorgi Margvelashvili said at the ceremony: “This training center will help to further improve your skills, which you will use only for one purpose – to defend freedom and those values that make us united.”

In his speech at the ceremony PM Irakli Garibashvili reiterated once against remarks made after the meeting with the NATO Secretary General earlier on August 27 that the center is not directed against any country. Russia has expressed concerns over the plans to set up this training center in Georgia.

The PM noted that Georgia already has an “experience of operating training centers established with NATO support”; he was referring to the Sachkhere Mountain-Straining School.
Georgian Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli said in her speech at the ceremony: “Georgia’s choice is more than clear – we aspire towards membership in the family of democratic, developed, stable and peaceful countries… Expansion of NATO expands freedom… NATO brings peace.”

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