NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated at a press conference with the Georgian President Salomé Zourabichvili that the North Atlantic Alliance and Georgia are concerned about Russia’s military buildup in the Black Sea region.
"We are stepping up our cooperation at sea, including training for Georgian Coast Guard boarding teams, more cooperation between Georgian and NATO naval forces and cooperation between Georgia’s Joint Maritime Operations Centre and NATO’s Maritime Command,” Stoltenberg noted.
He reiterated NATO's support for Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders that includes the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He also called on Russia to end its recognition of them as independents and to withdraw its forces from both regions.
Stoltenberg also said that during his meeting with Zourabichvili, they agreed to continue working together to prepare Georgia for NATO membership. The Substantial NATO-Georgia Package was touted as already strengthening the country’s defenses, aside from the Joint Training Centre.
"We also welcome the progress you are making on reforms, including more effective security and defense institutions and modernizing your armed forces. I encourage you to continue this path. And I welcome your commitment to match the NATO guideline of spending 2% of GDP on defense,” Stoltenberg added.
Zourabichvili, in turn, noted that "integration into NATO is a top foreign policy priority of Georgia."
"Georgia has proven not only its determination but [also] that it is a very reliable partner. And a very capable partner of NATO. Sometimes we deliver more than other members on the requirements of the requisites of the two percent of GDP. We now also spend twenty percent on the modernization of our equipment, which is another request,’ the President said.