Prime Minister and NATO Secretary General Attend NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019

Published in military
Wednesday, 27 March 2019 12:31

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attend the NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019 today.

The Head of Government and the NATO Secretary General visited the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center (JTEC) where Colonel Nikoloz Janjghava, the First Deputy Chief of the Defense Forces of Georgia, informed them in detail about the progress in the exercise.

Mamuka Bakhtadze and Jens Stoltenberg also visited the multinational brigade and attended an introductory briefing on the purposes and goals of the training audience.

The Prime Minister of Georgia and the NATO Secretary General also met with armed forces members wounded and injured in international missions, and thanked them for their selfless service.

The Command and Staff Exercise hosted by JTEC on March 18-29 brings together almost 350 armed forces members and civilians. The NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019 is the first joint brigade-level command and staff exercise carried out under the leadership of Georgia's Defense Forces. The exercise seeks to enhance the interoperability between the Georgian, NATO, and partner countries' armed forces, and to expand Georgia's command and control capabilities.

Prime Minister's Press Office

President Salome Zourabichvili – NATO Open Door Policy is the Cornerstone for NATO-Georgia Relationship

Published in Politics
Monday, 25 March 2019 16:33

President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili hosted the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, as part of his official visit to Georgia.
The President of Georgia expressed her gratitude to Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg for visiting Georgia and stated that it is a pleasant and respectful fact to see Georgia and NATO hosting together NATO-led military exercises, an important message manifesting the level of our confidence-based relationship.
“The path that we follow is a very important sign for Georgia’s population - this path is irreversible and there is no alternative. Everything is done on our side, including military and political reforms, to strongly keep this path.
“NATO’s Open Door Policy is the cornerstone for the NATO-Georgia Partnership. This policy continues, especially following the accession of North Macedonia - an important step,” said the President of Georgia. 
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that Georgia is an extremely valuable partner and the door is open for Georgia.
NATO continues to support Georgia and urges the Russian Federation to withdraw its forces from the Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia.
“Madam President, it is really great to be back and meet you again. We last met in Brussels and now here in Tbilisi; that shows strength and high-level of partnership activities that we now have between Georgia and NATO.
“Georgia is a highly valued partner of NATO. Today, I have visited the Joint Training Center where we now are conducting joint exercises - Georgia and the several NATO allies and some partners.
“It shows that Georgian soldiers and the NATO soldiers are able to operate side-by-side and work together. And, I am extremely grateful for Georgia’s contributions in our shared security.
“Georgia is a part of NATO Response Force. Georgia contributes in our mission in Afghanistan and by working so closely together, we are strengthening the security of NATO allies and also helping you. This is something which is in the interest of both Georgia and NATO.
“Georgia is really a unique partner. We welcome the progress you are making, the reforms you are implementing, and we urge you to continue on that path of reforms.
“NATO leaders have stated again and again that Georgia will become the member of the Alliance. I was present at NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008, where we stated that for the first time. But, we made the same statement, Georgia will become the member of Alliance, after the NATO Summit in July in Brussels last year.
“We will continue to support you as you walk towards membership and we, of course, also recognize and strongly support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. And, therefore we call on Russia to withdraw its forces from South Ossetia and Abkhazia and its recognition of these territories because they are part of Georgia within Georgia’s internationally recognized borders.”
The meeting was attended by Georgia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Davit Zalkaliani, Minister of Defense Levan Izoria, Chief of Georgian Defense Forces Vladimer Chachibaia, Head of Presidential Administration Lasha Zhvania, Head of the Georgian Mission to NATO Alexandre Maisuradze, and Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Ketevan Makharashvili. From the North Atlantic Alliance’s side, the meeting was attended by Deputy Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Security Policy and NATO Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai, Military Assistant to the Secretary-General Gjermund Eide, Head of NATO’s Liaison Office in Georgia Rosaria Puglisi, Officer of the Euro-Atlantic and Global Partnership at the Political Affairs and Security Policy Division Steffen Elgersma, and Deputy Spokesperson Piers Cazalet.

Jens Stoltenberg’s visit gives yet another powerful impetus to Georgia’s integration with NATO – David Zalkaliani

Published in Politics
Monday, 25 March 2019 12:13
"Georgia’s being so high on the NATO agenda highlights how important Georgia is to NATO” – Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani told journalists at the airport where an official welcoming ceremony was organized for the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Speaking about NATO-Georgia relations, Zalkaliani said that being held immediately prior to the NATO Ministerial Meeting Jens Stoltenberg’s visit takes on a particular importance. According to Zalkaliani, “next week will be eventful in terms of Georgia-NATO relations. NATO Military Committee will pay a visit to Georgia and I will have a meeting within the framework of the NATO-Georgia Commission in Brussels that will deal with Black Sea security-related issues”.
The Minister said that Jens Stoltenberg’s visit also coincides with NATO military exercises, in which an unprecedented number of NATO partners and members take part.
According to Zalkaliani Georgia has all practical instruments for integration with NATO and Georgia is recognized as a leader in terms of implementing these instruments.
The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrived in Georgia on 24 March. At the Tbilisi International Airport he was met by Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, Georgia’s Representative to NATO Aleksandre Maisuradze, Head of the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia, Rosaria Puglisi, Poland’s Ambassador to Georgia Mariusz Maszkiewicz.
Within the framework of the visit, the NATO Secretary General will hold meetings with the Prime Minister of Georgia, President, Chairman and members of the Parliament.
Jens Stoltenberg will also visit the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre (JTEC) and will attend the joint exercises organized by the Centre.

 

NATO Representatives Condolences over the death of Georgian Service member in Afghanistan

Published in military
Monday, 07 August 2017 10:34

Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg and his Deputy Rose Gottemoeller expressed deep condolences over the death of Georgian service member, Junior Sergeant Mdinari Bebiashvili in Afghanistan. NATO leaders expressed their condolences on the name of the Alliance to the Ministry of Defence of Georgia and family of the fallen soldier.

Commander of the “Resolute Support” mission, General John W. Nicholson Jr. also expressed condolences: “Our prayers today are with the almost 900 Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan who are mourning their fallen comrade,” said General John Nicholson. “The commitment of Georgia as our largest non-NATO contributor is vital to our mission and we are honored to stand beside them under these difficult circumstances.”

An attack was conducted on a combined motorized patrol in the vicinity of the Bagram Air Base, in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. As a result, Soldier of the 23rd Battalion of the II Infantry Brigade who served in the “Resolute Support” mission, Junior Sergeant Mdinari Bebiashvili (23.10.1991) was killed in Action. Junior Sergeant Bebiashvili served in the Georgian Armed Forces since 2010. He participated in the ISAF mission in 2012 and 2014. He has received medal for “Participating in Peacekeeping Operations”. 

The NATO Secretary General’s report refers to Georgia as one of the important partners of the Alliance

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 15 March 2017 16:01
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg released his annual report which includes details of NATO activities in 2016. The document provides an overview of the current geo-political situation in the world, challenges facing the Alliance and measures taken by the Alliance to counter these challenges. The Report refers to Georgia in various aspects, including as an aspiring member and one of the most important partners of the Alliance providing significant troop contributions to the Resolute Support mission (RSM). The Secretary General speaks about Georgia in the context of the Open Door Policy. The report reads that “NATO’s Open Door Policy is a founding principle and one of the Alliance’s great successes. In 2016 Montenegro was invited to begin accession talks to join NATO. The invitation to Montenegro is a clear sign that NATO’s door remains open to those countries that want to join and that meet the criteria of membership. Work continues with other countries that aspire to join the Alliance – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – to help them prepare for NATO membership. NATO has a strong programme of cooperation with each aspiring member state to help it carry out the reforms necessary for membership”. A separate chapter in the report is devoted to issues relating to the implementation of the NATO-Georgia Substantial Package. According to the Report, defence capacity building for Georgia is provided through the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package. The Package also provides expert advice in the areas of acquisition, strategic and operational plans, Special Operations Forces, military police, cyber defence, maritime security, aviation, air defence and strategic communications. It also covers support and contributions to NATO exercises in Georgia. The package includes the establishment of a Joint Training and Evaluation Centre and a Defence Institution Building School. According to the document, the Partnership Interoperability Initiative offers specific partners enhanced opportunities for deeper cooperation. Five partners (Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden) currently have access to enhanced cooperation, which includes tailored consultation on security matters and close participation in exercises. The report highlights Georgia’s contribution towards ensuring international security referring to Georgia (with its 870 soldiers) as the largest troop contributing nations among non-member states. Commenting on the global geo-political situation, the NATO Secretary General said: “Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine, as well as ISIL’s seizure of Mosul, marked in very different ways the start of a new era. So today, the Alliance must engage in both collective defence and crisis management at the same time, strengthening its collective defence and projecting stability beyond its borders”. In this context, the Report makes mention of the deployment of NATO’s multinational battlegroups led by Romania in Baltic countries, as well as in the Black Sea region.

Doorstep statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 06 December 2016 16:57

Doorstep statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Foreign Ministers:
Good morning.
Today and tomorrow, NATO’s Foreign Ministers will address some of the security challenges we are all facing and we will do that by addressing a wide range of the issues but at the core of the meeting is the importance of the transatlantic bond, the bond between Europe and North America. One way of strengthening the bond between North America and Europe is by strengthening the cooperation between NATO and EU. And we have a momentum now when it comes to NATO-EU cooperation. In July, I signed a Joint Declaration with Presidents Tusk and Juncker and at the meeting today we will decide how we turn that declaration into concrete action.
So this afternoon, we will meet with EU High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini and all Allies will endorse over 40 proposals to deepen our cooperation in seven key areas. These include agreements to do more on land, at sea, and in cyberspace – including to counter hybrid threats.
We will also commit to working more closely to support our partners in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Our proposals are pragmatic, but ambitious and we will continue to work in this spirit.
Later today, we will focus on NATO’s efforts to project stability beyond our borders – to the south and to the east. We have made progress since the Warsaw Summit. Our AWACS surveillance planes have started to provide information to the Counter-ISIL Coalition. We have trained many Iraqi officers and are now expanding that training. And our new operation Sea Guardian is now supporting EU’s Operation Sophia in the Central Mediterranean. We will also address NATO’s support for the Western Balkans, which requires our continued attention and effort
Tomorrow, we will begin with a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. Underscoring the Alliance’s enduring support for Ukraine. We will take stock of NATO’s support, and of the government’s reforms.
The ministerial will close with a meeting on Afghanistan and our Resolute Support mission. We will reconfirm our strong commitment to Afghanistan’s security and we will get an update on the government’s reform agenda, which is essential for Afghanistan’s long-term stability and prosperity.
And with that, I’m ready to take your questions.
Q: Secretary General, after the agreement on logistics signed today between the US and the EU, are you concerned at all that this sidesteps NATO? And, how can real NATO-EU cooperation move forward without a peace deal on Cyprus?
Secretary General: I welcome the agreement that is signed between the United States and the EU today. Because that is one building bloc of what we are going to do later on here at NATO, and that is to strengthen the transatlantic bond, by strengthening the cooperation between NATO and the European Union. And we think this is more important than ever, partly because we are faced with new kinds of threats. This combination of military and non-military means of aggression, hybrid, cyber, terrorism that requires that NATO and the European Union work together. We also think that stronger NATO-EU cooperation is even more important, because the European Union is now more focused on strengthening a European defence. And we welcome stronger European defence, but to make sure that this is done in a way which is complementary to NATO, we need even closer cooperation between NATO and the European Union. Also the fact that there have been questions, that questions have been asked related to the strength of the transatlantic bond, I think the best way to respond to those questions is to deliver stronger NATO-EU cooperation, which strengthens the transatlantic bond. And today, we will endorse 40 concrete proposals on cyber, on hybrid, on exercises, on maritime cooperation and in many other areas. So the agreement between the US and the European Union is something we welcome; we regard it as a building bloc in the broader effort of strengthening the transatlantic bond.
On the Cyprus conflict, I will just say that I strongly support the efforts, the EU-led efforts to find a solution between the two communities at Cyprus. There has been some progress, but still I think it’s not sure to say whether they will succeed or not. But I think what we have proven over the last couple of years is that even with the conflict in Cyprus unsolved, we have been able to move forward on strengthening NATO-EU cooperation. We have seen that in the Aegean Sea, where NATO and the European Union work together; we have seen it now in the Central Mediterranean with Sea Guardian and Operation Sophia and we see today with the 40 concrete proposals. So, yes I would like to see a solution to the conflict in Cyprus, but no, that’s not a precondition on moving forward on NATO-EU cooperation.
Q: in the war against Daesh NATO is participating in support of the Coalition, can you tell us the first result of NATO contribution in this war against Daesh in Syria and Iraq? And maybe will the Sea Guardian Operation be useful in monitoring and may be fighting the movement of Daesh fighters from Iraq and Syria to Libya, because according to many security experts this will be one of their options.
Secretary General: All NATO Allies participate in the counter-ISIL Coalition. And for the Coalition it is important and a great advantage that through decades of NATO exercises and decades of NATO operations, NATO allies and partners have developed interoperability, the ability to work closely together in military operations, as we now see in Syria and Iraq. So NATO Allies participate and the Coalition…[inaudible]. Second, we decided in July to increase our support from NATO to the Counter-ISIL Coalition. We have done that by providing AWACS support and AWACS planes have started to fly and to provide information supporting the counter-ISIL Coalition to improve their air picture over Iraq and Syria; and we have trained Iraqi officers; we will increase that by also starting now in-country training in Iraq from January; and we will then assess and look into whether we are going to do even more based on the experience from the activity that will start in Iraq in January.
Our Sea Guardian operation is a Maritime Security Operation. It’s a flexible operation. It can be used to different tasks, depending on decisions by the 28 Allies. We have already started to provide support to Operation Sophia; we provide logistical support and also information-sharing with Sea Guardian. Sea Guardian will not operate in Libyan territorial waters. It will operate in international waters, but of course improved situational awareness and better understanding of what’s going on also in the Mediterranean sea contributes to our overall effort to counter terrorism in the region.
Q: In Russian President Putin’s state of the union speech last week and his foreign policy document, he expressed the wish to try to [inaudible] cooperation with the US and the new President. What is your take on the speech and on the foreign policy document? Is there anything for NATO there to work for better relations with the Russians?
Secretary General: I welcome any toning down of the rhetoric, because words matter. Less aggressive rhetoric can be a first step towards also better dialogue. At the same time, words matter but of course deeds matter even more. Therefore the important thing is what we see, what kinds of actions we see from the Russian side. We will continue to pursue a dual track approach with Russia based on strength, based on deterrence and collective defence combined with dialogue and by keeping the channels for political dialogue open with Russia. This was the message the first day I arrived in NATO the 1st of October 2014, that we need defence and dialogue not defence or dialogue.  Therefore, we welcome anything that can improve the conditions for dialogue with Russia. We believe that especially when tensions run high it is particularly important to have dialogue to have direct communications, and we do not want a new cold war, we don’t seek confrontation with Russia. We will continue to strive for a more constructive relationship with Russia.
Q: Mr Secretary General, there will be an informal discussion about the future relationship with Russia. Could you give us an insight why the Alliance is always trying to reconsider to look for another approach to make the ties with Russia better if there is no reciprocity from the Moscow side.
Secretary General: One of the reasons why we think it is important to sit down is also to discuss those issues where we disagree. So far this year we have been able to convene two meetings of the NATO-Russia Council. And there we have also discussed also issues like Ukraine. We didn’t come to any agreement, we continue to disagree but I think just to meet, to sit around the table and to have a frank and open discussion on also the difficult issues is important. We will continue to keep that kind of dialogue open in different ways but also through the Nato-Russia Council. Then we will also continue to work for reciprocity when it comes to transparency, risk reduction, and also the full implementation of the different agreements we have, for instance in the OSCE framework on transparency and risk reduction. We have something called the Vienna document and something called the open skies document. These documents regulate how you notify military exercises, how international observers are allowed to inspect military exercises, and one of the issues we have very much focused on in our dialogue with Russia is exactly how we can strengthen and improve these kind of mechanism’s, partly by making sure that existing mechanisms are fully implemented and partly by improving some of the mechanism. So we are strengthening the tools to avoid incidents and accidents, like for instance the downing of a Russian plane over Turkey last tear. Or some of the very dangerous situations we have seen in the Baltic Sea and Black Sea, where Russian planes have been very close to NATO or US planes and ships. So we need to strengthen the tools we have to avoid these kind of dangerous situations and if they happen, to make sure that they do not spiral out of control. This is of course about reciprocity and that is exactly what we are discussing for instance in the NATO-Russia Council.

Prime Minister of Georgia will visit the Kingdom of Belgium from November 30

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 10:24

H.E. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia will visit the Kingdom of Belgium from November 30, 2016. Head of the Government of Georgia will participate in the 3rd Session of the Association Council of EU-Georgia, which is scheduled to take place on December 2, 2016.
A three-day visit will involve meetings with H.E. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, H.E. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and Vice Presidents of the European Parliament Messrs. Manfred Weber and Gianni Pittella.
Prime Minister of Georgia will meet H.E. Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO). Parties will make joint statements for press after the meeting.
Head of the Government of Georgia will also hold bilateral meetings with officials of the European Commission and Parliament: Ms. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Mr. Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy; Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship; Mr. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy; Ms. Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade and Mr. Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Georgian delegation will include the following officials: H.E. Mikheil Janelidze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia; H.E. Giorgi Gakharia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development; H.E. Victor Dolidze, State Minister of Georgia for EU and Euro-Atlantic Integration; H.E. Levan Izoria, Minister of Defense of Georgia; H.E. Alexander Jejelava, Minister of Education and Science of Georgia.

It's important for NATO to deepening cooperation with Georgia-Jens Stoltenberg

Published in Politics
Thursday, 27 October 2016 16:55

It is too important for NATO to deepening cooperation with Georgia and it is also important for security of Georgia. This statement was made by the Secretary General of Alliance Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, at press-conference.
Journalist asked him if Georgia take part in new strategy of NATO’s Black Sea. Stoltenberg answered that the plan will be published in February.
“Georgia is strategic partner of NATO. We are cooperating in different issues. We have opened new center in Georgia several weeks ago. So this means that it is too important for NATO to deepening cooperation with Georgia and it is also important for security of Georgia,”-he said. 

Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Published in World
Thursday, 27 October 2016 12:00

Good evening.
We have just finished a productive meeting of the NATO defence ministers addressing deterrence and defence and how we are going to implement the decisions we made at the Warsaw Summit.
Protecting our almost one billion citizens is NATO’s primary responsibility.
At the Warsaw Summit in July, NATO leaders took decisions to ensure we continue to do so.
Over the past 100 days, we have come a long way in implementing those decisions.  Today we assessed how far we have come. And the work that lies ahead.
Earlier this year, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States each committed to lead a multinational battalion in the eastern part of the Alliance. A transatlantic demonstration of rock-solid support for our Allies. 
I am proud to announce that many other Allies confirmed contributions to these forces today.
Albania, Italy, Poland and Slovenia will contribute to the Canadian-led battalion in Latvia. Belgium, Croatia, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Norway will join the German-led battalion in Lithuania.Denmark and France will contribute to the UK-led battalion in Estonia. And Romania and the United Kingdom will join the US-led battalion in Poland. Our forces will be truly multinational.  Sending an unmistakable message: NATO stands as one.  An attack on any Ally will be considered an attack on us all.
In Warsaw, we said that we expected to deploy the four battalions in early 2017.
I am pleased to confirm that we are on track.This Alliance does what it says.  And we deliver on our promises.Today we also discussed progress in strengthening NATO’s presence in the Black Sea region.  With a Romanian-led multinational framework brigade on land.And we are working on measures in the air and at sea.  And I’m pleased to confirm that several nations indicated their willingness to contribute to our presence in the Black Sea region, on land, at sea and in the air.
Including Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and the United States. Other Allies are also looking into how they can contribute. During the meeting, we discussed recent military activity close to NATO’s borders.  Including the recent KAVKAZ 2016 exercise, and Russia’s deployment of Iskander missile systems to Kaliningrad.
We are concerned about Russia’s behaviour.  But dialogue is even more important when tensions run high. And Allies stand ready to hold an ambassadorial meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in the near future. We also discussed the growing role of cyber defence for NATO.  In Warsaw, Allies pledged to strengthen their national cyber defences. And today, we stressed the importance of making good on that pledge.  So that we can show real results by the time of our next Summit.
Finally, new security challenges can mean new demands on our command structure. It must be robust and agile, empowering the Alliance to continue to take quick and decisive action. So we have decided to assemble a Senior Experts Group to support the Strategic Commanders in assessing the effectiveness of the NATO Command Structure. We covered a lot of ground this afternoon.  And I am encouraged by the progress we are making.
Guided by decisions made at the Warsaw Summit, NATO is adapting for the future. To keep our people safe and our Alliance strong. And with that, I am ready to take your questions.
Q) Secretary General, Cristian Unteanu, ADEVARUL, Romania, please be kind to elaborate a little bit more on the measures regarding Romania just in line of the decisions taken in the Warsaw Summit. 
Secretary General: We are in the process of deciding the shape and the design of the tailored presence in the south east of the alliance. Several nations announced today that they are ready to contribute forces and capabilities. Both to enhance our presence in the air, at sea and on land. Many elements are already agreed but we are working on the full package of measures. And we aim at being able to present and to agree at our Defence Ministerial meeting in February. So, what I can say is that the work is progressing well, several Allies made announcements today that they are ready to provide different kinds of forces, but all the elements are not yet fully decided. So, some work remains to be done. Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, and the United States announced during the meeting that they will contribute to our increased, our enhanced tailored forward presence in the south east of the Alliance.
Q) Izvestiya. Thank you Mr. Stoltenberg, would you please clarify the point, the reason of appointing a new chief of intelligence. Why was that person selected? Does he have a team? When does it start working? Thank you very much.
Secretary General: We are faced with a new and more demanding security environment, with all the violence, the instability to the south with ISIL, and also with turmoil in north Africa and the Middle East and this has direct consequences for NATO Allies, because it’s close to NATO borders. At the same time we face a very different challenge with a more assertive Russia, which is increasing its military presence close to NATO borders. So, all of this which is a more demanding security environment increases the need for us to understand and to assess the challenges we are faced with.  To react in a proportionate and responsive way. And therefore intelligence has become even more important, collecting intelligence, sharing intelligence, but of course also to understand better. That’s the reason why we have decided to establish a new division, inside NATO, which is dedicated to intelligence and which is going to be chaired or led by a new Assistant Secretary General on Intelligence. I have appointed a German. He has a long career from the foreign service of Germany, but also from their intelligence services. So I regard him as a very fit for the task. I am looking forward to work with him. He will start within not too long time but I cannot give you an exact date. He will be in NATO as soon as possible. So, then we have been able to strengthen and improve the way we work on intelligence in NATO and that is also important, because of how we support and help nations to work through their own intelligence.
Q) Gallavotti, ADN/KRONOS. The Defence Minister of Italy asked for a major role of the joint command in Naples. I wonder what do you expect for the southern flank of the Alliance.
Secretary General: First, I think it is important to underline that what NATO does with this 360 degree approach meaning that when we for instance increase the readiness of our forces, when we now have established the new high readiness joint task force, and when we have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force with 40,000 troops, that is relevant both for the east and for the south. It is not something which is earmarked for the east. It is earmarked for responses to any threats from any directions. So, it is also relevant for the south; the new high readiness joint task force and the enhanced NATO response force. Second, we are addressing several issues which are, shall I say, part of our response to the challenges that we see in the south. We have increased our presence in Turkey, with assurance measures in Turkey and I welcome that Italy is contributing with a counter-missile battery SAMP-T. That is important.
And that is one of the concrete examples of how we have increased our presence in the south with increased NATO presence in Turkey. We are going to discuss tonight also other issues which are highly relevant for Italy and the south. We are going to discuss the establishment of Sea Guardian, the new maritime security mission of NATO in the Mediterranean and will address how Sea Guardian can provide support to the EU operation Sophia. We will make decisions tonight, hopefully and then I will be to announce them tomorrow. So then I can tell you more. Lastly, we will also address, of course, how we can step up the support for the Counter-ISIL Coalition. We have started to provide direct support with NATO AWACS surveillance airplanes that started last week on the 20
th of October. And we are also in the process of making decisions on the training of Iraqi officers inside Iraq. We have trained them in Jordan for some time, but they are now moving into Iraq and we will also make decisions on that mtonight.
Q) Teri Schultz, NPR: Mr. Secretary General, what is your understanding of the new reinforcements that Russia is adding to its Baltic fleet near Kaliningrad. There are some reports coming from Russian media and I would like to have your comments. And the Polish Defence Minister has said at this meeting that this changes the balance of power in and around Kaliningrad. What is your understanding of what their capabilities are.….?
Secretary General: I can confirm that two Russian warships have recently entered the Baltic Sea. And NATO is monitoring this movement in the way we always do, in a responsible and measured way. But we are of course always following this kind of movement and deployment of Russian naval forces, as for instance we are also monitoring the movement of the aircraft carrier group into the Mediterranean. But at the same time I think we have to understand that this is just yet another example of a pattern we have seen over long period of time, where we see more Russian activity, we see Russian military build-up, and we see also more Russian exercises and many different kinds of capabilities.
And I think it is important for NATO to have a strategic approach, to understand that we should not relate to each event, but relate to the overall picture. That’s exactly why NATO has responded and why NATO is responding with increased readiness of our forces, with increased presence also in the Baltic region and also with small headquarters in the eastern part of the Alliance to be able to plan exercises and to coordinate efforts of the national home defence forces and NATO forces and possible reinforcements. So all of this is part of a picture which NATO has responded to and to which NATO will continue to respond. For me it is important to react to this in a measured and responsible way and underline that what NATO does in the Baltic region, but also in the south east of the Alliance is defensive, it is proportionate and it is fully in line with our international commitments.  
Q)HROMADSKE TV (Ukraine): What is the deadline of the deployment for the four battalions and what weapons will they have?
Secretary General: Well, the decision we made in July was to start the deployment early 2017, early next year and then be fully deployed by the summer. That is still the plan and we are on track and we are moving according to that plan and actually I am very inspired by the meeting today, because so many nations were very firm in concrete decisions and announcements on contributions to the four battalions. So they will be robust, they will be multinational, and they will be combat ready. They will not be exactly the same in the four different countries, but I can say that they will be robust, they will be combat ready and they will be reinforced battalions. So they will deliver a very clear message of strength and deterrence from NATO.
Q)Julian Barnes, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Mr. Secretary General, 1 could you react to the Russian withdrawal on her request to refuel at a Spanish port? Is that a positive development? And 2. You repeatedly said, NATO is defensive Alliance, but are you worried that we are in an escalatory situation where NATO in sending tanks to the eastern flank and Russia is sending ships to the Baltic Sea, Russia is reinforcing the East Mediterranean, NATO is reinforcing in the Black Sea. Is this a dangerous escalatory situation?
Secretary General: NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia. We don’t want a new cold war and we don’t want a new arms race and therefore what NATO does is defensive and it is proportionate. At the same time, NATO has to react when we over a long period of time have seen a substantial military build-up by Russia and we have seen them modernizing their military capabilities and most importantly we have seen them willing to use military force against neighbors Crimea, Ukraine and also Georgia and we also saw a threatening rhetoric from Russia. So NATO has to respond to continue to deliver credible deterrence in a new security environment and we have to remember that the reason why we delivered deterrence, why NATO is strong is not because we want to provoke a conflict, but it is because we want to prevent a conflict; and the best way to do that is to stay strong, united and be firm in our response.
We combine this message with a very clear message about that we seek dialogue, we seek a more cooperative relationship with Russia and we want transparency. Therefore we are transparent on our exercises, we are transparent on our increased presence and actually at the last meeting of the NATO-Russia Council we spent a lot of time going through what NATO is doing. Illustrating exactly what we are doing, but also by being transparent contributing to avoid even increased tensions. Especially when tensions are high, it’s important that we keep channels for political dialogue open. Then we have seen deployments of different assets; at the same time I think it is important to underline that every nation has the right to exercise their troops, its forces and Russia has the right to operate in international waters with its naval assets. So for me that underlines the importance of not reacting in each individual event, but look at the brother strategic picture and have a strategic approach; and we have done exactly that, based on a development we have seen over a long period of time.
Q)Lucia Abelan, EL PAIS: It is a follow up to my colleague’s question. Were you satisfied by the explanations that Spanish government gave about not letting  the Russian warships be refueled in Spanish territory? Thank you.
Secretary General: I said this morning that it is up to each nation to decide whether they provide supplies and refuel naval ships and that’s still my position. At the same time, I stated that we are concerned about the potential use of this carrier group to increase air strikes on Aleppo, exacerbating disaster and catastrophe in Syria and Aleppo. And I think I shall limit myself to say the same now.

Letter to the Giorgi Kvirikashvili from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Published in Politics
Friday, 30 September 2016 14:22

Letter to the Giorgi Kvirikashvili from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Dear Prime Minister,
On behalf of the North Atlantic Council and myself I would like to convey our gratitude for hosting last week's visit of the North Atlantic Council to Tbilisi and your participation in the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting. More specifically let me express my application to your Government for all the efforts to prepare the Council's visit to the Georgian People for making us at home in Georgia.
I believe our dialogue was constructive and pragmatic. Our allies were impressed with the commitment to reform demonstrated by your Government and the broad national consensus on Georgia's foreign and security policies. I also notice Georgia's keen interest to take part in deliberations on Black Sea Security,"-its said in the letter.

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