NATO’s Stoltenberg in Georgia and Turkey, with an eye on Russia

EPA/VEGARD WIVESTAD GROETT

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

NATO’s Stoltenberg in Georgia and Turkey, with an eye on Russia


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The ambassadors to NATO are traveling with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Tbilisi, Georgia, today for two days of meetings.

NATO membership for Georgia, whose territory is partially occupied by Russian forces, will not seriously discussed, but Tbilisi remains an important partner for NATO, contributing troops to Afghanistan and supporting other critical missions.

U.S. Marines are currently training in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia, just about 50 miles southwest of the Russian-occupied region of South Ossetia. The live fire exercises are aimed at improving Georgian military’s ability to execute combined arms operation, integrating tanks and other armored vehicles with other weapons systems and different kinds of military units.

In addition to the Marines, forces from Ukraine, Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria are also participating in the exercise, called Agile Spirit, which will run until mid-September.

Stoltenberg will chair a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission in Tbilisi, with the participation of the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

Stoltenberg will then head to Ankara, in his first visit to Turkey since a violent coup attempt rocked the key alliance member in July.

NATO said in a statement Tuesday that Stoltenberg will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Defense Minister Fikri Isik and other high-level officials.

Over 270 people died in the July 15 attempted putsch and developments since have strained relations between Turkey and many of its NATO allies. Turkish authorities have accused the West of being more concerned about the rights of the plotters and of people who supported them than the attempt to overthrow the lawfully elected government of a NATO member by force.

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