OREANDA-NEWS Georgian Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze, speaking in parliament with a progress report, said the country's authorities planned to complete the modernization of anti-aircraft systems this year in cooperation with Israeli arms manufacturer Rafael, Gazeta.ru reported.

He added that Georgia is preparing personnel to start operating the air defense elements, which were purchased from France on the basis of the contract signed back in 2015. The official also announced the beginning of the purchase of portable anti-aircraft missile systems of the Stinger type, both with their own money and with the support of partners.

The republic's Defense Ministry is also working to create and equip a joint air surveillance center. The country plans to restore the existing radar systems and purchase medium- and long-range air defense missiles.

Earlier, Italian President Sergio Mattarella told Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili that Rome supports the accession of the Caucasian state to the European Union.