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Stoltenberg: ‘Supporting Georgia is Important for NATO’
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 4 Jul.'16 / 17:58

At the summit in Warsaw later this week, NATO will also demonstrate support to its partners in the east, including Georgia to boost its defence capacity and resilience “to resist outside pressure and to advance reforms,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference on Monday.

NATO-Georgia Commission at the foreign ministerial level will be held on the sideline of the summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, where the Georgian delegation will be led by President Giorgi Margvelashvili, who will participate in a meeting of leaders of NATO members and partner countries contributing to the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. The Georgian Defense Minister will participate in a meeting of NATO defense ministers with their counterparts from 25 partner countries, which cooperate with the Alliance on interoperability.

“One of the reasons why we are stepping up our support and providing support to Georgia… is to help Georgia increase the resilience, its capacity to resist outside pressure,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference on July 4.

“Of course it is important for NATO to support Georgia, because Georgia has seen lot of pressure from outside and we will continue to help them resist that pressure,” he said.
 
Georgian Defense Minister, Tina Khidasheli, says that Tbilisi’s goal is to get more practical tools to help the country increase its self-defense capabilities.

Speaking at a news conference on June 27 in Tbilisi, Khidasheli said that one of the areas on which Georgia has worked actively over the past year was to make Georgia a “full-fledged participant” of NATO’s Black Sea “security concept”.

“Georgia is fully engaged in ongoing discussions over this concept,” she said, adding that Georgia will be part of the any such concept if agreed at the summit in Warsaw. “There is no Black Sea security without Georgia’s participation.”

“Our demand is simple: if one of the component of this security concept is patrols in the Black Sea, Georgia should be part of those [patrol] routes – [NATO] vessels should make port calls in Georgia with the same frequency as they make it in Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish ports,” Khidasheli said.

She said that Tbilisi has also been pushing for Black Sea maritime security and intelligence data sharing.

“Black Sea security picture NATO and its members are looking at should also be fully accessible for Georgia, likewise Georgia’s data should be fully accessible for NATO members,” Khidasheli said.
 
“The goal is clear-cut and simple – Georgia should be part of any activity that will be planned by NATO in the Black Sea,” Khidasheli said on June 27. “We’ve been working on this very actively for past year and I am confident that verbal agreements that we already have will also be reflected in documents in Warsaw.”

Responding to a question on Black Sea security, which was not asked specifically in Georgia’s context, the NATO Secretary General said at the news conference on July 4, that the Alliance will continue discussions about it beyond the Warsaw summit.

“One of the areas where I see a need for continued adaptation is when it comes to our presence in the Black Sea region. So that will certainly be on our agenda also after Warsaw [summit],” Stoltenberg said.

Although NATO foreign ministers said in December that Georgia has “all the practical tools to prepare for eventual membership”, they also reaffirmed that before joining the Alliance the country should go through a Membership Action Plan (MAP) phase, which Georgia has been denied since 2008. Granting MAP to Georgia at the Warsaw summit is not expected.
 
Georgian officials say that decision on MAP, when there is a consensus on it within the Alliance, will actually be a political one, which might be equivalent to invitation to join NATO.

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