Visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg inspects the ongoing Georgia-NATO exercises near Tbilisi, Georgia, on March 25, 2019. Jens Stoltenberg on Monday reassured that the NATO supports Georgia's aspiration to join it and hopes Georgia will be admitted into it soon. (Xinhua/Kulumbegashvili Tamuna)
TBILISI, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday reassured that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supports Georgia's aspiration to join it and hopes Georgia will be admitted into it soon.
During a joint press conference with Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze in Tbilisi, the NATO head said he hopes Georgia can soon be admitted into NATO, and underlined that it is only up to Georgia and NATO to make decisions about this issue.
"It is our principle that each nation has the sovereign right to make its own decisions. Each nation has the right to choose its future. When we are ready, Georgia will become a NATO member and only NATO and Georgia and no third country will make the decision," Stoltenberg said.
NATO supports Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, Stoltenberg said.
Meanwhile, he urged the country to continue reforms in the defense, judiciary and other fields to comply with NATO standards.
For the regional situation, Stoltenberg confirmed NATO's increased interest in the Black Sea region and stated that the cooperation between the alliance and Georgia for Black Sea security will be particularly activated.
He also welcomed Georgia's commitment to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product for defense needs, encouraging the country to "continue making full use of all the opportunities for coming closer to the Alliance."
For his part, Bakhtadze reiterated that the country's membership in NATO is a key priority for Georgia's foreign and security policies.
"NATO membership is supported by a majority of Georgians, which confirms that it is not only a political choice, but also a choice which is based on values," Bakhtadze said, while vowing to continue its reforms to become an alliance member.
Stoltenberg on Sunday started his two-day visit to the Caucasus country and met separately with Bakhtadze, President Salome Zourabichvili and Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze before the joint press conference with Bakhtadze on Monday.
He also inspected the ongoing Georgia-NATO exercises near Tbilisi.