As part of the visit to the United States, Minister of Defence of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili participated in a roundtable discussion at the Atlantic Council, moderated by the Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council Damon Wilson.
Georgian Defence Minister talked about the security challenges in the region, Georgia's aspirations to join Euro-Atlantic structures and defence transformation. Irakli Garibashvili focused on Georgia’s unprecedented defence and security cooperation with the United States: “2019 marks the 27th anniversary of diplomatic relations with the U.S., 25th Anniversary of the State Partnership with the State of Georgia and the 10th anniversary of signing our Charter on Strategic Partnership. Over the past 27 years, we developed a deep, durable, and mutually beneficial security and defence relationship, which is codified in many agreements and understandings. We have fought together, sustained losses together and will continue to serve together in Afghanistan until the US forces deploy.”
At the beginning of his speech, Irakli Garibashvili made a statement regarding the illegal detention of Dr. Vazha Gaprindashvili by the Russian occupation forces and called on the international community to take firm stance on this issue: “On November 9, Dr. Vazha Gaprindashvili, a well known Georgian physician and President of Georgia’s Association of Orthopedists and Traumatologist was illegally detained while paying a visit to a patient in need of urgent case, kept by Russian-backed Tskhinvali Region authorities. And he was sentenced a months of pretrial custody for “illegal crossing”. We have mobilized the international community and spread an effort to ensure that our citizen Dr. Gaprindashvili returns to his family timely and in safe manner. And just yesterday we used the UN Security Council to emphasize on that issue. During the open debates, the Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UN demanded that Dr. Gaprindashvili must be released at once.”
In his speech, Defence Minister spoke about Georgia's geopolitical significance and highlighted Georgia's role in NATO's Black Sea security architecture, amid security challenges in the region. According to him, Georgia is engaged in a strategic discussion with NATO and is taking practical measures to ensure the Black Sea security.
Irakli Garibashvili emphasized the importance of participation of the Georgian Defence Forces in large-scale multinational exercises in order to increase interoperability with NATO. He also paid special attention to the perspectives of the development of Georgia Defence Readiness Program (GDRP) and Combat Training Center (CTC).
Minister of Defence introduced the participants the ongoing reforms and future plans in the Defence Forces, which include defence capability development, modernization of weapons and infrastructure, development of military education and training, improvement of the social conditions of servicemen and their families.
“Georgia’s defence transformation efforts are based on the notion of strategic readiness which ensures that we are doing our best on a daily basis to be continuously ready for NATO membership with strategic patience,” –Minister said. According to Irakli Garibashvili, Georgia’s commitment to the European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations is backed by strong public support and preserved by the Constitution which guarantees irreversibility of the key foreign and security policy priority. The Minister reviewed the progress achieved on the road to NATO integration and spoke about Georgia's contribution to strengthening international security.
Within the frames of the visit to the United Stated, Minister of Defence of Georgia will hold a meeting at the US Department of Defence and sign a framework agreement on security cooperation.