Minister of Defence of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili met with Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council Damon Wilson and senior officials of the think tank. The sides discussed bilateral relations between Georgia and the US, Georgia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations, the security environment in the region and Georgia's ongoing and planned defence reforms. An unprecedented cooperation in defence and security field with the United States was under special focus.
“One of my main priorities is to strengthen strategic relations with the United States and bringing it to a high level. Through democratic development and strengthening national self-defense and resilience capabilities, Georgia aims to become a regional ally of the U.S and a fully-fledged member of NATO and EU. Our commitment to the European and Euro-Atlantic membership aspirations continues to enjoy strong political and public support, and has been enshrined in the new Constitution, which reflects the irreversibility of this foreign and security policy direction”, - declared Irakli Garibashvili.
The meeting also focused on the challenges in the region, Russia's aggressive actions and the hybrid threats. It was noted that 20% of Georgia's territory is occupied by Russia, which is still actively seeking to bring its neighboring countries under its sphere of influence and weaken their democratic development. Sides also discussed ways to tackle these challenges by strengthening national defence capabilities and resilience, as well as international support.
The Defence Minister introduced the members of the Atlantic Council future plans, which aim further strengthening Georgia's defence capabilities. Irakli Garibashvili thanked the Atlantic Council for the support of the Georgian Defence and Security Conference (GDSC) and expressed hope that their involvement in this year's GDSC would remain on a high level.
From the Georgian side, Deputy Minister of Defence Lela Chikovani attended the meeting. The US side has been represented by: Ambassador Daniel Fried, Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council (former US Assistant Secretary of State); General (Ret) Phil Breedlove, Atlantic Council Board Director (former Supreme Allied Commander Europe); Ambassador John Herbst, Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council (former US Ambassador to Ukraine & Uzbekistan); Michael Carpenter, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council and Penn Biden Center (former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense) and Lieutenant-General (Ret) Ben Hodges, from CEPA.