By Davit Kachkachishvili
BATUMI, Georgia (AA) – NATO is concerned by Russia’s military build-up in the Black Sea region, said the deputy secretary general of the bloc on Thursday.
“We are concerned by Russia’s military build-up in the Black Sea region. That is why we are strengthening the cooperation between Georgia’s and NATO’s naval forces”, Rose Gottemoeller told a joint news conference alongside Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia in Batumi, Georgia.
Gottemoeller said that NATO deeply appreciates the contributions of Georgia to the Euro-Atlantic security.
She added that Georgia is “one of NATO’s closest operational partners.”
Referring to the two-day visit of North Atlantic Council to Georgia, Gottemoeller said this visit was “an occasion to celebrate five years of the Substantial NATO-Georgia package – the cornerstone of our support to the reform of Georgia’s security and defense sectors, and Georgia’s preparations for NATO membership.”
“Today, allies restated their full support for Georgia’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. We call on Russia to end its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. And to withdraw its forces from these regions of Georgia,” said Gottemoeller.
Gakharia, on his part, said that a secured Euro-Atlantic space is less imaginable without the security of the Black Sea.
He also added that the integration of Georgia to NATO contributed to the regional and global security.
He stated that Georgia’s cooperation with NATO “is the foundation of Georgia’s foreign policy and its security.”
*With writing and contribution by Gozde Bayar in Ankara