TBILISI, Georgia (Rahnuma) : NATO chief on Monday said the alliance support Georgia’s territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders.
“NATO fully supports Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” Jens Stoltenberg said at joint a news conference with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze in Tbilisi.
Stoltenberg said NATO supports peaceful solutions to the conflicts between Georgia and Russia, and added: “We call on Russia to end its recognition of the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to withdraw its forces.”
Tbilisi fought a five-day war with Russia in 2008 over Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia lost control of both areas and Russia later recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.
Stoltenberg said NATO shares concerns of Georgia about Russia’s military build-up in the Black Sea region, and noted: “That is why we are strengthening the cooperation between Georgian and NATO naval forces.”
“We will continue working together to prepare Georgia for NATO membership,” he said.
Bakhtadze, for his part, said the relations between his country and NATO was at the strongest level.
He also said the ongoing NATO-Georgia joint military training program would serve to strengthen Georgia’s defense abilities.
Noting that Georgia’s integration with NATO was important and a priority for Tbilisi’s foreign policy and security, Bakhtadze said Stoltenberg’s visit was supporting the process.
“Unfortunately, Russia continues to occupy 20 percent of Georgian territory,” he stressed, and said people living there were subjected to human rights violations.
“We are loyal to the peace policy,” Bakhtadze said.