Within the visit in Georgia, Commander of the US European Command, Philip Breedlove met with the Georgian Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli. After the meeting, a joint press conference was made for media representatives.
Tinatin Khidasheli summarized the results of the meeting with General Breedlove and talked about his visit: It is a privilege to host General Breedlove today, because it is last 45 days in his current position serving. Georgia is one of the countries that were selected for the visit and I think it is an excellent testimony to show that our country is long-standing partner for the US. It is a proof of friendship, when people say “good-bye” and go to a country where they consider having the most of the friends and partners, and they would like to share their thoughts and recommendations. This is, precisely, a friendship and cooperation, which is strengthening our statehood and, in this particular case, it’s mutually reinforcing US-Georgia and NATO-Georgia relations in the field of defence and security. Since yesterday was even more symbolic that General Breedlove is with us and we are talking about security issues in Tbilisi. We share to each other our positions, attitudes and try to find a solution to the very complex world in which we all find ourselves together”.
In his remarks General Breedlove also thanked Georgia for its contribution to international security and highlighted main messages: “First of all it’s great to be back to Tbilisi. I appreciate the warm hospitality of Minister Khidasheli and her team. I thank you for the opportunity to highlight the strong relationship we enjoy between US European Command, NATO and our strategic partners in Georgia.
Before I address my visit here, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the tragic events in Brussels yesterday. My thoughts and prayers go out for all that impacted by these horrible terrorist attacks. We strongly condemn these attacks and we will continue to stand by Belgium and our NATO allies and partners to defeat these terrorists who threaten our freedom and our way of life.
The security situation across Europe continues to evolve and become more complex. We continue to face security direct challenges from two directions. To the east we face resurgent aggressive Russia which has voluntarily chosen to be an adversary and pose an aggressive long-term threat to the United States and our European allies and partners. To the south, Europe faces the daunting challenge of mass migration spurred by state instability and collapse and masking the movement of criminals, terrorists and foreign fighters. As a result of conflict in the region, “Daesh” is spreading like a cancer and threatening European nations with terrorist attacks. Its brutality driving millions to flee from Syria and Iraq and creating unprecedented humanitarian challenge.
As we work with allies and partners to respond and to overcome both of this serious threats we stand fully behind Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Today I was privileged to visit the administrative boundary line with your chief of defence and our ambassador. There I witnessed the division of Georgian people. As your brave valiant nation has witnessed, Russia continues to extend its coercive and corrosive influence on its periphery. Now it’s also trying to reestablish leading and aggressive role in a world stage. Russia automatically seeks to overturn the established rules and principles of the international system, fracture the unity of the free world and to challenge our solidity.
NATO is privileged to have a steadfast partner like Georgia. It continues to be an extremely valuable contributor to the international security. We all know that Georgia is the second largest contributor of troops to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. Through these deployments Georgia is playing an important role in maintaining international peace and security. We are extremely grateful to the Georgian people for being such a committed provider of international security.
The U.S. Military and the Georgian Armed Forces have served together, side by side, for more than fifteen years in international security missions. Both of our militaries know what it means to be brothers –in-arms in today’s increasingly complex security situation. The current efforts of the United States military assistance in Georgia are focused on strengthening Georgia’s self-defence capabilities as well as deepening further Georgia interoperability with the United States and NATO. Our goal is that Georgia be as prepared as possible so that when NATO is ready to go Georgia will be ready to go as well.
To reiterate – the United States supports Georgia’s aspirations to join the NATO Alliance. This has been our position since the 2008 Bucharest Summit.
We greatly look forward to our upcoming joint exercises with Georgia which will further strengthen our partnership and bring Georgia even closer to our standards. Both the Noble Partner and Agile Spirit exercises will enhance our ability to interoperate with NATO partners like Georgia that is contributing forces to NATO Response Force. In May, Noble Partner 2016 will bring Georgian, US and UK soldiers together at Vaziani training area for three weeks to exercise our respective NATO Response Force capabilities and it will be bigger and better than last year’s Noble Partner exercise.
Finally, I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to you Madam Minister, to the people of Georgia and especially to the valiant Georgian troops for their self-sacrifice alongside the NATO Allies and Partners in our shared security missions around the world. We’ve long served together for peace and security in dangerous theaters and in the process. We’ve forged very close bonds. Georgia is a noble partner indeed and we look for to deepening our partnership to promote a safer, more secure future for both of our countries and nations.”
After the opening remarks, press conference continued in an interactive format.