The first day of Defence Minister`s visit to Italy finished by the meeting in the Defence and Security Committee of Parliament. Vice Chairman of the Defence Committee Rosa Maria Villecco Calipari hosted Tinatin Khidasheli and the Georgian delegation. During the meeting, a focus was placed on the recent withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
The threats of terrorism and migration were main topics of discussion. The Italian side expressed desire to intensify cooperation with Georgia in the field of intelligence. Georgia, in its turn, offered the Italian side co-participation in the implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package and received agreement. The Italian side also expressed readiness to conclude agreement supporting Georgia`s territorial integrity.
“It is important that we have opportunity to speak with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence and to lead a political dialogue with Defence and Security committees simultaneously. It is a good way of delivering our political messages, information, requirements and conditions in order for Georgia to achieve progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration. The Italian side will provide a full support to Georgia both in bilateral and parliamentary assembly formats-will it be parliamentary assemblies of OSCE, European Council or NATO. I think that holding such meetings is important just prior to the ongoing discussions on EU visa liberalization and upcoming NATO Warsaw Summit. It is crucial for us to acquire support of one more country towards Georgia`s sovereignty and state interests”,declared Minister o Defence of Georgia after the meeting.
During her visit to Italy, Minister of Defence of Georgia Tinatin Khidasheli met with her Italian counterpart Minister of Defence Sen. Roberta Pinotti. The meeting between defence ministers was hosted in Palazzo Baracchini. The sides discussed a number of issues like bilateral cooperation in the field of defence, Georgia`s expectations from the upcoming NATO Warsaw Summit, NATO-Georgia cooperation mechanisms and involvement of Italy in the implementation of the Defence Institution Building (DIB) School project as part of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP). The contribution provided by Georgia in peacekeeping missions was also underlined during discussions. Italian Minister of Defence expressed an interest in Georgia`s plans on participation in Afghan mission by 2017. The bilateral discussions referred to Russia`s activities and propaganda too.Italian Minister of Defence thanked the Georgian side for the fruitful cooperation with Italy and for its contribution in international peacekeeping operations-“Georgia is significantly moving closer to NATO. Italian Ministry of Defence is cooperating in many bilateral activities with Georgia. We have always received absolutely exceptional reports about the Georgian participation in all the cooperation and training activities. Georgia`s participation in the Afghan mission with a very significant contingent should be remarked. We have to thank Georgia for its engagement in international security efforts. I would like to thank Georgia for all this cooperation”, said Sen. Roberta Pinotti.“It is always a pleasure and honor to be meeting with the female Defence Ministers. It gives very important notes to all the other countries to follow. We have a very strong cooperation with Italy both within the NATO as the Minister has already mentioned as well as on bilateral format. Going to Warsaw we hope that there will be even more engagement and projects where we will be able to cooperate with the Excellence Center in Italy as well as with the Ministry itself. We are very much optimistic as to going to the Summit and I believe that both NATO as an institution and as well as Georgia-NATO cooperation will be stronger, looking forward for a more secure world after the Summit”, declared Tinatin Khidasheli. As part of the visit, Defence Minister has already met with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy Benedetto Della Vedova. The meetings are planned with Vice Chairman of the Defence Committee of Parliament Rosa Maria Villecco Calipari and in the Institute of International Affairs of Italy and the NATO Defence College.
In the framework of the conference "The Changing Geopolitics of the Caucasus Region" official dinner was held at Funicular Restaurant. Georgian Defence Minister attended the event as a specially invited guest.
Tinatin Khidasheli delivered a keynote speech during meeting. She spoke about upcoming Warsaw Summit, NATO policy toward eastern flank and Black Sea security.
“With the variety of opportunities Warsaw Summit is also a great challenge for all of us. It’s important what will be our communication strategy and how successful will it be during and after summit. Whatever happens with the EU the alliance is still firmly stands its integrity policy. Strengthening of NATO on eastern flank and acceptance of Montenegro will positively affect our development and success. On Montenegro’s example we can say that open door policy works and is effective. Strengthening of NATO in the Black Sea region is an opportunity for Georgia. Georgia is ready to join all the security projects on the Black Sea, because we are part of this region. We’ve had many discussions in Brussels and NATO capitals that if there are serious talks about Black Sea security, then there is no security of this region without Georgia.
When we talk about shift of the balance in the Black Sea, we should know that Romania and Bulgaria are not the targets. Georgia and Ukraine are the main targets in this region,” – Tinatin Khidasheli said.
Minister of Defence of Georgia Tinatin Khidasheli participated in the Conference “NATO Warsaw Summit-Challenges and Expectations” held in the Hotel “Radisson Blue Iveria”. The goal of the Conference is promote engagement of the representatives of the Georgian government, international organizations, Diplomatic Corps accredited in Georgia and the expert organizations in the discussions around 2016 Warsaw Summit agenda.
The Conference participants highlighted a number of issues under the 2016 NATO Summit agenda regarding security in the Black Sea region and key challenges existing on NATO east borders.
Tinatin Khidasheli delivered speech at the panel dedicated to the Eastern Europe and Black Sea security. Minister stressed importance of NATO enlargement and increasing the role of NATO member nations in the Black Sea region.
“I have just returned from Warsaw where a very significant event was held under the support of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The final dissuasions were held in the capital city of Poland prior to the Summit concerning NATO Open Door Policy. Two main decisions will be reached at the Summit that will have a great significance for Georgia. The first one is that NATO will be farther expanding that means NATO Open Door Policy works. Integration of Montenegro into NATO is a very good message for us as well. We hope that the next stop will be Georgia. The second issue refers to strengthening the NATO member nations of Eastern Europe. The new military policy pursued towards these countries will insure further protection of NATO partner nations. The most important countries for me are the NATO member states which are interested in the Black Sea region, as strengthening of NATO in the Black Sea will lead to the enhancement of Georgia’s security” state Tinatin Khidasheli.
The a number of issues were highlighted during the Conference: NATO policy, strategic approach to new threats and challenges mainly concentrated on Eastern Europe and Georgia, Georgia`s current partnership with NATO and future prospects of NATO-Georgia cooperation
Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies provided an organizational support for the Conference in cooperation with Georgia’s Atlantic Council, NATO Liaison Office and Romanian and Polish Embassies.
Special reception for distinguished guests was held on US military aircraft “Harry Truman” in Souda Bay, Crete, Greece. Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli, Chief of General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces, Major General Vakhtang Kapanadze and his deputy, Colonel Nikoloz Agladze attended the event. Marine attaché of the embassy of U.S. to Georgia, LTC William J. Conner, Defence Ministry and Chief of Defence of Bulgaria, as well as Minister of Home Affairs and National Security of Malta and other officials also visited the American aircraft.
The distinguished guests viewed aviation and equipment on the aircraft, they familiarized with the structure and working principle of the military aircraft and attended the air show specially arranged for the guests. By the end of the event the representative of the American aircraft “Harry Truman” handed over presents for cooperation and partnership to the Georgian guests.
Minister of Defence of Georgia finished her official visit in Brussels by the meeting with NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow. NATO-Georgian relations, Georgia`s expectations from the NATO Warsaw Summit and future plans of cooperation were the key topics of discussions during the meeting hosted by the NATO headquarters.
“We have highlighted the upcoming NATO Summit in Warsaw and focused on a communiqué Georgia is expecting to be granted at the Summit. We have reviewed the different issues and projects Georgia is going to implement after the Summit. A lot of initiatives and ideas will be proposed that will lead to strengthening Georgia`s defence capabilities. One thing I want to say for sure is that Georgia will be offered more bilateral projects and provided with increased opportunities during the Summit to enhance its defence capabilities. The discussions are ongoing with regard to the political part of the declaration as well and I hope that we will have success in this regard. Though, the main task we have set is to achieve important progress in terms of strengthening defensive potential of the country” said Tinatin Khidasheli.
In the frames of Defence Ministerial, Minister of Defence of Georgia met with Polish, Croatian, Turkish and Ukrainian counterparts.
Georgian Defence Minister has gone from Paris to Brussels, where the NATO HQ hosts Defence Ministers meeting. In the framework of Defence Ministerial, Tinatin Khidasheli holds meetings with her foreign counterparts. On the first day the Defence Minister met with the Defence Ministers of Turkey and Ukraine. Tinatin Khidasheli congratulated Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Işık with the appointment and wished him success. Fikri Işık once again reaffirmed Turkey’s support towards Georgia. The main topics of the meeting were bilateral cooperation in defence sector and future plans.
“Turkey has new Defence Minister and it’s very important for us to have communication with our strategic partner. This ministerial is a great opportunity for introductory meetings. I am very pleased when a new minister fully testifies the policy and approach of what we’ve heard over the years from Turkeys Foreign and Defence Ministries. He is Georgia’s supporter, friend and partner and is ready to continue all the projects on which we have been working during last year,” – declared Tinatin Khidasheli.
Tinatin Khidasheli has invited Turkish colleague in Georgia, where next tripartite ministerial is planned to held. “Most likely, tripartite meeting will be held in Tbilisi or Batumi, where we will sign memorandum of understanding, which will allow Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan to move relationship to a higher level,” – Georgian Defence Minister said.
Tinatin Khidasheli and Defence Minister of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak exchanged information on the situation in Ukraine and Georgia. “We talked about the current situation in our countries and joint activities, opportunities and awareness of the international community about all the challenges we are facing in the field of defence and security,” – Defence Minister said after the meeting.
In the frame of Defence Ministerial, Tinatin Khidasheli will meet with her Polish and Croatian counterparts. She will also held meeting with the NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow.
Defence ministers of Georgia and France discussed the Warsaw Summit expectations and the issues of strengthening Georgia`s air defence capabilities. Jean-Yves Le Drian hosted Tinatin Khidasheli in the Defence Ministry. According to Georgian Minister of Defence, the cooperation between the two countries entered a new phase and France will assist Georgia to develop aviation and air defense capabilities.
“We have focused on the expectations of the upcoming NATO Warsaw Summit and the French side`s assistance in developing Georgia`s defence capabilities. We hope that from 2017 a lot of interesting projects will be implemented in the framework of bilateral cooperation”, said Georgian Minister of Defence.
Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development Gayle Smith congratulated the Georgian people on the Day of Independence at an official reception held to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Georgia’s independence in Washington, on 8 June 2016.
“I am truly honoured to be here, to convey you my warmest and deepest congratulations on important and historic occasion. It is not a coincidence that today we are celebrating Georgia’s independence day and the strategic partnership between Georgia and the U.S.”, Gayle Smith said, addressing the attending guests, “We always support and continue to support Georgia. That matters to you, matters to us. That’s why we work together so long, promoting the development of democratic institutions”. Gayle Smith focused on the Parliamentary elections to be held in Georgia in October.
The USAID Administrator underlined that Georgia is a model, an example of development of the democracy and economy. “Democracy is hard work and it never ends” Gayle Smith said.
The reception dedicated to the restoration of Georgia’s independence was organised by the Embassy of Georgia in the U.S. and was attended by more than 900 guests. From the Georgian side, the reception was hosted by Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli, Ambassador of Georgia in the United State Archil Gegeshidze. From the U.S. side the guests were addressed by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Elissa Slotkin.
Within the framework of his visit to Washington, Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze held meetings within the Senate and the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress.
On 8 June 2016, Mikheil Janelidze met the NATO PA President, the U.S. Congressman (for Ohio, Republican) Michael Turner. The sides discussed the preparations for the NATO Warsaw Summit and the importance of active support of the U.S. Congress in this process. The Georgian Minister thanked Congressman Turner for the inclusion of the revised provision on Georgia into the National Defense Authorization Act. Discussions focused on the security situation in the region, as well as on the importance of Georgia-U.S. co-operation in tackling the challenges facing the country.
On 9 June 2016, Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze and Georgian Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli held meetings with the Co-chairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Senator Bob Corker for Tennessee, Republican, and Senator Ben Cardin for Maryland, Democrat; Senator Jeanne Shaheen for New Hampshire, Democrat; Senator Ron Johnson for Wisconsin, Republican; the chair of the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher for California, Republican.
At the meeting, the Georgian Foreign Minister focused on the current reforms in Georgia, security challenges and the importance of U.S.’s assistance in the process of tackling these challenges. Mikheil Janelidze highlighted the current heavy situation in Georgia’s occupied territories and spoke about Russia’s illegal actions.
Talking points also included Georgia’s expectations and preparations for the NATO Summit in Warsaw and the significance of support by the Congress; current co-operation between Georgia and the EU and the issue of granting visa-free travel for the citizens of Georgia; and the Parliamentary elections to be held on 8 October.
The U.S. side underlined the close relations between Georgia and the U.S., the strong support for Georgia and the inadmissibility of Russia’s aggressive and illegal actions. The U.S. side expressed its strong support for Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration, condemned the occupation of the Georgian territories by the Russian Federation and reaffirmed the unequivocal support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.