Tbilisi welcomes the beginning of the new stage in the relations between Russia and NATO following the signing of the Rome Declaration, said President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, in his national radio address on Monday.
President Shevardnadze also said that Georgia considers NATO to be a strong partner who helps consolidate regional stability. "The North Atlantic alliance has turned into one of the main guarantors of modern global security, a reality that is recognized by all today," he said.
Speaking of the NATO exercises Cooperative Best Effort-2002 which are beginning in Georgia, President Shevardnadze said that they reflect the high level of cooperation between Georgia and NATO. He also said that he attaches much importance to the NATO exercises in the republic from the viewpoint of raising the fighting efficiency and professionalism of the special units of the Georgian armed forces. The president recalled that NATO exercises held as part of the Partnership for Peace programme were held last year, too.
President Shevardnadze also stressed that these exercises have nothing to do with the conflicts in Abkhazia or South Ossetia (an autonomous territory in Georgia).