Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist and Georgian Minister of Defense Irakli Garibashvili Before Their Bilateral Meeting

Nov. 21, 2019
Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist; Georgia Minister of Defense Irakli Garibashvili

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DAVID L. NORQUIST: It is an honor and a privilege to welcome Georgian Minister of Defense Garibashvili to the Pentagon on behalf of Secretary Esper. 

The strategic partnership between the United States and Georgia, based on a mutual commitment to defending and promoting shared values, has never been stronger. The United States applauds Georgia's contribution to NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, and appreciates the sacrifice Georgian service members have made to enhance security and stability around the world. 

U.S. support of Georgia's independence sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwaving [unwavering]. Bilateral initiatives such as the Georgian Defense Readiness Program and Georgian Deployment Program-Resolute Support Mission, as well as recent procurements of Javelin anti-tank missiles, are greatly improving Georgia's military capabilities and readiness. 

The institutional reforms, which are being successfully implemented by the Ministry of Defense with U.S. assistance, are enabling the development of a 21st century military capable of operating effectively with Western counterparts. 

The U.S. Department of Defense looks forward to continuing its close cooperation with the Georgian Ministry of Defense and will seek opportunities to further strengthen our vital strategic partnership. 

Once again, it is a pleasure to welcome the minister here, and I very much look forward to our discussion. 

MINISTER OF DEFENSE IRAKLI GARIBASHVILI: Thank you very much, Mr. Deputy Secretary. It is a great privilege for me to be here today at the Department of Defense of the United States. 

First of all, let me express my deep appreciation for the U.S. government's (inaudible) support toward Georgia's sovereignty, territorial integrity and its European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. This is much needed now as Georgia matures as a free and democratic nation. 

You were informed that one of the main challenges of our country remains the ongoing occupation; borderization and militarization of Georgia's occupied territory by the Russian Federation continues to gravely deteriorate security situation in the region. Preparedness, manifested through an undeniable state of readiness, is deterrence, and therefore it is our number one priority. 

Together, we are building a modern NATO-interoperable combat-ready, lethal, resilient and highly mobile force capable of providing credible deterrence and defense. And through this effort, we have been able to provide significant contributions to our shared global security efforts. 

This year marks the 27th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Georgia and the United States, the 25th anniversary of a state partnership with the state of Georgia, and the 10th anniversary of signing our Charter on Strategic Partnership.

Over the past 27 years, we have developed a deep, durable and mutually beneficial security and defense relationship. We have fought together with sustained losses together, and we will continue to serve together in Afghanistan. 

Georgia has not only been a consumer of security and mentorship, but has contributed over 25,000 troops to international missions while sharing the accumulated knowledge and best practices with neighboring and partner nations under the auspices of various NATO programs. 

We know that Georgia resides at the center of one of the world's most fluid strategic environments between the key Eurasian powers. It has strategic seaports on the Black Sea and over land routes in Central, East Asia and the Middle East. 

Our country lies at the intersection of many vital U.S., NATO and E.U. global interests. Our geostrategic location and our country's adherence to democratic values and common security principles make it a key ally to the U.S. and NATO. 

Georgia's continued transformation and burden-sharing demonstrated clearly by our spending 2% of GDP on defense and commitment to buy major systems from the United States, and by being the largest troop contributor to international missions, prove that Georgia is one of the most reliable, interoperable and willing partners of America and NATO.

By becoming a role model in the region through robust economic and democratic transformation, support for Georgia is a perfect example of America's – American taxpayers' money well spent. This is what your legislators sought, and we have delivered it.  

Our partnership has never been stronger. Equally strong is the promise of even greater security as we sign a three-year agreement, security cooperation framework, later today. So these are the strong foundations that provide a sustainable platform for our powerful alliance. Once again, I thank you for your welcome.