Secure Black Sea a priority for Georgia, NATO's help is key

Georgia President Salome Zurabishvili on her first official visit to Poland in May 2019. Photo:

Georgia President Salome Zurabishvili paid a three-day official visit to Poland. On 7 May, she met with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda who stressed after the talks that Poland will continue to support Georgia’s NATO and EU membership aspirations.

On 8 May, President Zurabishvili was at the Warsaw University speaking to students and she underlined that Georgia is a part of Europe. Her country indeed stands out among other Eastern Partnership member states for its success on the path of integration into the European Union. Georgia has signed an Association Agreement and clinched a visa-free deal with Brussels. When it comes to the cooperation with NATO, “everything has time and progress,” President Zurabishvili said.

In light of her recent statement that it was not a good idea to build a US military base in Georgia, for which the opposition immediately threatened with impeachment, today’s comments sounded contradictory.

“The Black Sea has to become the sea of security,” Salome Zurabishvili said replying to Euroradio’s question on a NATO base and the expansion of Russia’s influence in the region. “In fact, there is not only an increased presence of Russia - Russia always is trying to increase its presence and its pressure, but there is also - and that is what is very welcome - an increased presence of the US Navy, and not only of the US Navy but of other NATO allies that are visiting Georgian ports.  And we are building on that.

The second aspect which we are going to develop together with NATO is cybersecurity which is very important because the Black Sea has to be the sea of connectivity and there are many projects in that direction. And that has to go hand in hand with cybersecurity. In fact, there is a Georgian proposal of having a center of excellence in cybersecurity in the same way that Lithuania has one and we have been having this discussion with NATO authorities.”