NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Prime Minister Garibashvili, dear Irakli.
It's great to have you back here at NATO Headquarters. You know NATO very well and therefore it's an honor and a pleasure to meet you once again here at NATO.
Georgia is one of NATO's most important partners. We have a close political partnership, and a strong practical cooperation.
Our forces serve side by side in Afghanistan, training the brave Afghan security forces. And helping to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists and we are extremely grateful for the contributions and the commitment of Georgia over many many years.
At the meeting we had today and also the meeting later on today, of the NATO-Georgia Commission, we will discuss how we can build on our cooperation. Including with the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which we updated last year.
This is the cornerstone of the Alliance's support to Georgia's reform efforts. It helps Georgia operate effectively with Allied forces, and prepare for NATO membership.
We will continue to strengthen our training and exercises. And enhance our joint situational awareness, including in the Black Sea region.
Yesterday, the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 entered the territorial waters of Georgia. This visit aims to enhance the ability of our naval forces to work together, by conducting joint exercises with the Georgian coast guards.
So I think this visit of our standing forces working together with your coast guard demonstrates that we are actually delivering together when it comes to practical cooperation. Black Sea security is a priority for NATO and Georgia. And we are concerned by Russia's continued military build-up in the region.
Russia is using Crimea to project forces in the Black Sea. And so we are working to strengthen our presence in the Black Sea region.
NATO supports Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty, within its internationally recognised borders.
And we continue to call on Russia to end its recognition of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and to withdraw all its forces.
So Prime Minister, our close partnership also means that we do not shy away from difficult discussions. The recent political developments in Georgia are worrying.
NATO expects Georgia to uphold the democratic standards that it has worked so hard to develop in recent years. This includes resolving political differences through dialogue. And avoiding divisive rhetoric and actions. NATO supports the mediation efforts of the European Union.
Prime Minister, I encourage you to work with the opposition to find common ground and common solutions.
So once again, thank you for coming. Thank you for attending the meeting with the ambassadors and the commission later on today. Georgia is really a highly valued partner and we very much appreciate the political and practical cooperation with you.
Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili:
Mr. Secretary General,
I would like to extend my gratitude for hosting me here in NATO HQ. On behalf of all Georgian citizens, I am honored to discuss with you the dynamic and substantive agenda of NATO-Georgia cooperation and our integration process.
Membership in NATO is Georgia's top foreign and security priority, a priority so important that it is enshrined in our Constitution. Our NATO aspiration is based on the overwhelming majority of Georgian people who support this objective. It is a matter of broad consensus among the major political parties.
As a reflection of the vital role of NATO and our agenda for European and Euro-Atlantic integration my first official foreign visit as the new Prime Minister of Georgia is to Brussels.
We have all the practical tools to prepare for membership. We are one of the closest and most reliable and interoperable partners of the Alliance. Georgia has proven its ability to share the burden of collective defence through our participation in NATO-led operations. 860 Georgian men and women have been serving shoulder to shoulder along with Allied military servicemen in Afghanistan. They have proved their dedication, professionalism and commitment to this very important cause.
We welcome NATO's increased presence in the Black Sea region. NATO's presence in the Black Sea is a strong deterrence factor that brings an equally strong stabilizing effect for countries in the region. European security cannot be complete without a secure and stable Black Sea. This reality has become painfully evident in recent years.
We welcome the launching of the Allied strategy "NATO 2030", which will eventually result in the adoption of the new Strategic Concept of the Alliance. We do hope that the level of ambition demonstrated in the Expert Group report - "NATO 2030 - United for New Era" on "Open Door Policy" will be maintained in the new Strategic Concept as well.
2020 was marked by the adoption of the refreshed Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP). This updated agreement will bring it to more ambitious level and will be more tailored to the modern security challenges.
I would like to take this opportunity and thank all Allies for their active support and contribution to this very important endeavor. We do hope that refreshed SNGP will receive even more support from the Allies in the future.
NATO has played a significant role in enhancing Georgia's defence capabilities and increasing our resilience. We, on our side, have spared no effort to stand by the values of the North Atlantic Treaty, carry out a comprehensive reform agenda and move forward on our integration process, despite the internal and external security challenges.
A performance-based approach remains the core aspect in NATO's Open-Door Policy. Therefore, taking into consideration Georgia's success, its dedication and contribution to the shared Euro-Atlantic security, we do believe that time has come to move forward on Georgia's aspirations. We fervently hope for the full implementation of the Bucharest Summit decision that will lead to concrete and tangible steps aimed at inviting Georgia fully into to the Euro-Atlantic family.
Thank you very much again.