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Georgia Hosts NATO's North Atlantic Council In Batumi


NATO Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller (file photo)

NATO's top decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, has traveled to Georgia for a two-day visit including a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission with Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia.

Speaking at the beginning of the October 3 gathering in the Black Sea city of Batumi, NATO Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller said the visit demonstrated NATO's "ongoing commitment to Georgia," according to a transcript posted on the Western military alliance's website.

"It is also an occasion to celebrate five years of the Substantial NATO-Georgia package -- the cornerstone of our support for the reform of Georgia's security and defense sectors, and to Georgia's preparations for NATO membership," Gottemoeller said.

At a 2008 summit in Bucharest, NATO agreed that Georgia will eventually become a member, but no firm date has been set, although the membership perspective for the country has been reconfirmed at every summit since.

In March, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that the country will eventually join the military alliance, despite the Kremlin's fierce opposition.

Describing Georgia as "one of NATO’s closest operational partners," Gottemoeller hailed the South Caucasus's country's contributions to "Euro-Atlantic security."

She said the visit of the North Atlantic Council was "an opportunity to deepen and strengthen our cooperation with Georgia even further" and "to ensure that the Black Sea remains a strong source of stability and security for all the region."

Along with Gottemoeller and Gakharia, the permanent NATO representatives attended the meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission, which was established in 2008 to serve as a forum for consultations and cooperation to help the country achieve its goal to join the alliance.

During their visit to Georgia, Gottemoeller and the NATO ambassadors also plan to hold meetings with President Salome Zurabishvili, Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri, Defense Minister Irakli Gharibadze, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, and members of parliament.

The agenda includes talks with civil society groups and an inspection of two Georgian coast guard vessels.

Gottemoeller is also scheduled to deliver a speech to students at the Batumi State University.

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