It is a pleasure to be back here in Georgia and to visit this beautiful city on the sea for the first time. I can see why so many tourists flock here. For centuries, this port has been a destination for merchants and traders, for fisherman and sailors, for visitors of all kinds, and I know that the best days are still ahead. These waters have always connected your people with the wider world and made Georgia a bridge between east and west. And today, Georgians are once again proudly sailing out into the Black Sea.
I want to recognize all the members of the Georgian Coast Guard who are here with us today, and thank you for your service. And I’m delighted to help formally commission this Pazisi patrol boat, which will soon help guard Georgia’s coastline. This ship, with its advanced technology and capabilities, is a testament to the partnership between our two countries. Georgians and Americans worked together to modernize it. And I am proud that since 2009, the United States has contributed $10 million to help the Georgian Coast Guard become a sustainable, self-sufficient service capable of patrolling and protecting its territorial waters.
In addition to the three patrol boats, we have supported the construction of a ship repair facility, installation of new communications and observation equipment, and a high-tech maritime information center. All this is part of our broader effort to help Georgia secure your borders and defend your sovereignty. New border police stations in remote areas, radiation monitors at all ports of entry, more equipment and training for border guards and military officers, expanding ties with NATO both here and through our shared mission in Afghanistan, the United States is committed to this partnership and will keep it growing.
A strong Georgian Coast Guard will contribute to maritime security on the Black Sea and broader regional stability. Along with more effective border security on land, it will help crack down on the illicit flow of narcotics, human trafficking, and potential weapons of mass destruction. That’s vitally important for Georgia, for the region, and the world. But that’s not all. This ship and its sister ships represent the resilience of Georgia’s national spirit and the endurance of your sovereignty. America stands with you. We will not waver in our support for Georgia and your territorial integrity.
So I thank the people of Batumi and Georgia for your hospitality today. And to the brave sailors who will sail on this ship, let us all say good luck and Godspeed. (Applause.)