NATO’s relations with Georgia
Georgia aspires to join the Alliance. The country actively contributes to NATO-led operations and cooperates with the Allies and other partner countries in many other areas. Support for Georgia’s reform efforts and its goal of integration in Euro-Atlantic institutions is a priority for cooperation.
Prime Minister Garibashvili of Georgia and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (Nov. 2014)
- Relations started after the end of the Cold War, when newly independent Georgia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (1992) and the Partnership for Peace (1994).
- Dialogue and cooperation deepened after the “Rose Revolution” in 2003, when the new government pushed for reforms
- Allied leaders agreed at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Georgia will become a NATO member, provided it meets all necessary requirements – this decision was reconfirmed at NATO Summits in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014.
- Following the crisis with Russia in August 2008, the Allies continue to support Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders and call on Russia to reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states
- The NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) provides the framework for close political dialogue and cooperation in support of the country’s reform efforts and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
- At the Wales Summit in September 2014, a package of measures was launched to strengthen Georgia’s ability to defend itself and advance its preparations for membership
- Georgia has provided valued support for NATO-led operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and the counter-terrorist maritime surveillance operation in the Mediterranean.
More background information
Thanks to regular participation in Partnership for Peace (PfP) training and exercises, Georgia has been able to contribute actively to Euro-Atlantic security by supporting NATO-led operations.
Georgian troops worked alongside NATO troops in the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo from 1999 to 2008, providing a company-sized unit as part of the German brigade there and an infantry platoon within a Turkish battalion task force.
Georgia was one of the largest non-NATO troop contributors to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which completed its mission in Afghanistan in December 2014. It is currently one of the top overall contributors to “Resolute Support” – the follow-on NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces. Moreover, Georgia continues to provide transit for supplies destined for forces deployed in Afghanistan. The Georgian government has also pledged financial support for the further development of the Afghan National Security Forces.
Georgia participates in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour, a counter-terrorist maritime surveillance operation in the Mediterranean, primarily through intelligence exchange.
Moreover, Georgia is participating in the 2015 rotation of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and is expected to continue to contribute to the NRF in subsequent years.
The country also has a mountain training site, which is accredited as a Partnership Training and Education Centre and offers courses and training to Allies and other partner countries.
At the 2014 Wales Summit, NATO adopted a Partnership Interoperability Initiative to ensure that the experience gained by Allies and partners from over a decade of working together in Afghanistan is maintained and further developed. As part of this initiative, Georgia has been invited to participate in the Interoperability Platform that will bring Allies together with 24 partners that are active contributors to NATO’s operations. Georgia has also been identified as one of five countries that make particularly significant contributions to NATO operations and other Alliance objectives, which will have enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with the Allies.
Defence and security sector reform
NATO supports the wide-ranging democratic and institutional reform process underway in Georgia. Particularly in the area of defence and security sector reform, NATO and individual Allies have considerable expertise upon which Georgia can draw.
Cooperation in this area was given a significant boost at the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, where NATO leaders endorsed a substantial package for Georgia, including defence capacity-building, training, exercises, strengthened liaison, and opportunities to develop interoperability with Allied forces. These measures aim to strengthen Georgia’s ability to defend itself as well as to advance its preparations towards NATO membership.
As part of this package, more strategic-level advice is being provided to the Georgian defence ministry and general staff. A core team of advisors will be embedded in the defence ministry, to be complemented by experts in specific areas as required. Moreover, a Joint Training and Evaluation Centre is being established together with Georgia to host live and simulated training and certification for military units from Allied and partner countries. NATO exercises open to partners will be conducted in Georgia periodically. A defence institution building school will be established to make benefit of Georgia’s experience in reforms. The NATO Liaison Office in Tbilisi is also being strengthened.
Georgia’s participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) since 1999 has helped its forces develop the ability to work with NATO and is also providing planning targets that are key to security reform objectives in several areas. NATO support has, for example, helped Georgia build deployable units (according to NATO standards) that are interoperable with Allied forces. Georgia’s defence reform objectives within the PARP have facilitated improved financial management in the Ministry of Defence, assisted in reforming the intelligence structure of the armed forces and ensured that a credible Strategic Defence Review was conducted.
An important priority for Georgia is to ensure democratic control of the armed forces, including effective judicial oversight and appropriate defence command and control arrangements.
Improved education and training are also essential for Georgia’s reform efforts. NATO is leading a tailored programme for Georgia – the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) – with the support of the PfP Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes, the Partnership Training and Education Centres and Allied defence institutions.
NATO and Georgia launched a Professional Development Programme (PDP) for Civilian Personnel in the Ministry of Defence and other Security Institutions in 2009. The PDP provides training with the aim of strengthening the capacity for democratic management and oversight in the Ministry of Defence, as well as other security sector institutions. Training and education provided in the framework of the PDP are closely aligned to Georgia’s defence and security sector reform objectives. Current priorities are to support Georgia’s civil service reform and enhance Georgia’s own capacity for providing training to security sector civilian personnel.
Georgia also participates in the Building Integrity programme, which provides practical assistance and advice for strengthening integrity, accountability and transparency in the defence and security sector.
Another important focus of cooperation has been to support demilitarization projects in Georgia through the Partnership Trust Fund mechanism, which allows individual Allies and partner countries to provide financial support to key projects on a voluntary basis. Over the years, a number of such projects have helped to address problems posed by stockpiles of surplus and obsolete weapons and munitions, and promoted their safe disposal. An ongoing project is helping to clear mines and unexploded munitions from the ammunitions depot at Skra.
Civil emergency planning
Georgia is enhancing its national civil emergency and disaster-management capabilities in cooperation with NATO and through participation in activities organised by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC). The Centre helped coordinate the delivery of hundreds of tonnes of relief items to Georgia in the wake of the August 2008 conflict. It also coordinated assistance to Georgia in 2005 when the country experienced some of the worst flooding in its history, in 2006 when forest fires broke out in southern Georgia, and after a major earthquake in 2009.
Georgia itself hosted a major EADRCC consequence-management field exercise in the town of Rustavi in September 2012, which was organised in cooperation with the Emergency Management Department of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Security-related scientific cooperation
Georgia has been actively engaged within the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme since 1994. The SPS Programme enables close collaboration on issues of common interest to enhance the security of NATO and partner countries. By facilitating international efforts, in particular with a regional focus, the programme seeks to address emerging security challenges, support NATO-led operations and advance early warning and forecast for the prevention of disasters and crises.
In light of political developments and following an SPS Information Day in Tbilisi in July 2014, cooperation in the framework of the SPS Programme has recently been intensified. Today, scientists and experts from Georgia are working to address a wide range of security issues, notably in the fields of energy security, cyber defence, support to NATO-led operations and advanced technology (including nanotechnology). A recently approved SPS multi-year project looks for example at the risks to the Enguri Energy Infrastructure in Georgia and Georgian experts have contributed to a hands-on cyber defence training course based on their national experience and expertise. The SPS Programme is also promoting regional synergies and this year, Georgia is hosting a training course on “Cooperative Solutions to Critical Security Issues in the Black Sea Region”. (More on Georgia’s ongoing cooperation under the SPS Programme)
It is important to increase public awareness of NATO and its relations with Georgia. The NATO Liaison Office conducts public diplomacy programmes in Georgia in support of the Georgian government’s efforts to inform the public on NATO and in cooperation with local non-governmental organisations and state authorities. Activities include seminars, conferences and workshops. “NATO Weeks” and summer schools are organised on an annual basis to reach out to youth audiences.
Groups of opinion leaders from Georgia are regularly invited to visit NATO Headquarters and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) for briefings about the Alliance, and NATO officials regularly travel to Georgia to speak at public events. Senior NATO officials – including the Secretary General and the Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia – also regularly visit the country for high-level consultations. The North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal political decision-making body, paid a two-day visit to the country in September 2008, in the immediate aftermath of the Georgia crisis. The Council paid a second visit in November 2011 and another in June 2013. In every partner country, an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Georgia is the embassy of Romania.
The Office of the State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration has established an Information Center on NATO, which has its main office in Tbilisi and branches in Kutaisi and Zugdidi. Working in close cooperation with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division and with the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia, it is an important tool in raising public awareness about the Alliance in the country.
At an emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Council on 19 August 2008, NATO foreign ministers called for a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict based on respect for Georgia's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. They deplored the use of force, which is inconsistent with the commitments to the peaceful resolution of conflicts that both Georgia and Russia have made under the Partnership for Peace as well as other international agreements. The Allies expressed particular concern over Russia's disproportionate military action, which is incompatible with Russia’s peacekeeping role in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and called for the immediate withdrawal of its troops from the areas it was required to leave under the terms of the six-point agreement brokered by the European Union.
At Georgia’s request, the Allies agreed to provide support in a number of areas: assessing the damage to civil infrastructure and the state of the ministry of defence and armed forces; supporting the re-establishment of the air traffic system; and advising on cyber defence issues.
On 27 August 2008, the North Atlantic Council condemned and called for the reversal of Russia’s decision to extend recognition to the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states.
The Allies continue to support Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders. NATO does not recognise elections that have since taken place in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, stating that the holding of such elections does not contribute to a peaceful and lasting settlement. NATO equally does not recognise the signature of so-called treaties between Russia and the breakaway regions.
The Allies welcome Georgia’s efforts to seek a resolution to the crises with South Ossetia and Abkhazia through peaceful means. They strongly support Georgia’s current strategy of engagement with the two breakaway regions, which envisions a constructive way forward through fostering economic ties and people-to-people contacts to build confidence.
The Allies also welcome the steps Georgia has taken unilaterally towards Russia in recent years, including the removal of visa requirements for Russian citizens, the agreement on Russia’s membership of the World Trade Organization; as well as the direct dialogue that has been initiated with the Russian government by the Georgian government, which came into power in October 2012.
Created in September 2008 in the wake of Georgia’s crisis with Russia, the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) provides the framework for cooperation, serving as a forum for both political consultations and practical cooperation to help Georgia advance its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Since December 2008, the work of the NGC is taken forward through the development of an Annual National Programme (ANP).
In addition to Georgia’s contributions to Euro-Atlantic peace and stability, key areas of cooperation under the ANP include political, military and security-sector reforms. NATO agrees to support Georgia in these reforms by providing focused and comprehensive advice and activities in several frameworks (both civilian and military) towards its reform goals. Priorities for Georgia include transforming its public and private sectors in order to promote democracy, good governance, the rule of law and sustainable social and economic development, as well as reforming the defence and security sector, in particular the revision of Georgia’s national security plans.
In parallel with the establishment of the NGC, the Military Committee with Georgia was created as a format for meetings focused on military cooperation. The principal aim of NATO-Georgia military cooperation is to assist Georgia with the implementation of military and defence-related issues of the ANP, strategic planning and defence reforms, and to increase interoperability in support of Georgia’s contributions to NATO-led operations. The Military Committee with Georgia Work Plan defines key areas and objectives for military cooperation between NATO and the Georgian Armed Forces. The Work Plan comprises activities that help achieve the goals set in the ANP and PARP.
A NATO Liaison Office was established in Georgia in 2010 to support the country’s reform efforts and its programme of cooperation with NATO.
Georgia also cooperates with NATO and other partner countries in a wide range of other areas through the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC).
1992: Georgia joins the newly created North Atlantic Cooperation Council (succeeded by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997).
1994: Georgia joins the Partnership for Peace (PfP), a programme aiming to increase security and defence cooperation between NATO and individual partner countries.
1995: Georgia signs the PfP Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between NATO and partner countries – it addresses the status of foreign forces while present on the territory of another state in the context of cooperation and exercises under the PfP programme.
1999: Georgia joins the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) to help its forces develop the ability to work with NATO and to improve defence planning.
1999: Georgia starts contributing peacekeepers to the Kosovo Force (KFOR).
2001: Georgia hosts a multinational PfP military training exercise "Cooperative Partner".
2002: Georgia is connected to the Virtual Silk Highway, which provides high-speed internet access (via satellite) to academic establishments.
2002: Georgia hosts a multinational PfP military training exercise "Cooperative Best Effort".
2002: Georgia declares its aspirations to NATO membership and its intention to develop an Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO to sharpen the focus of cooperation on reform efforts.
2003: Georgia participates in ISAF's election security force in Afghanistan.
June 2004: At the Istanbul Summit, Allied leaders place special focus on the Caucasus – a special representative and a liaison officer are assigned to the region.
2004: Georgia becomes the first country to agree an IPAP with NATO.
2005: NATO and Georgia sign a transit agreement allowing the Alliance and other ISAF troop-contributing nations to send supplies for their forces in Afghanistan through Georgia.
2006: NATO offers an Intensified Dialogue to Georgia on its aspirations to join the Alliance.
2007: Georgia hosts a NATO/PfP air exercise, "Cooperative Archer 2007".
April 2008: At the Bucharest Summit, NATO leaders agree Georgia will become a member of NATO, provided that it meets all the necessary requirements.
August 2008: Allies express deep concern over the armed conflict between Georgia and Russia, calling for a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict based on respect for Georgia's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. They agree to support Georgia's recovery in a number of areas and also propose the establishment of a NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) to oversee the implementation of support as well as supervise the integration process set at hand at the Bucharest Summit.
September 2008: The North Atlantic Council pays a two-day visit to Georgia. The Framework Document establishing the NATO-Georgia Commission is signed and the inaugural meeting takes place in Tbilisi. In December, NATO foreign ministers agree to develop an Annual National Programme (ANP) under the auspices of the NGC.
20 February 2009: Allied and Georgian defence ministers discuss Georgia's progress in defence reform and its priorities.
5 March 2009: The NGC meets in Brussels for the second time at the level of foreign ministers to discuss a range of issues of common interest.
3 December 2009: The NGC meets at the level of foreign ministers to discuss the course of Georgia's Euro-Atlantic integration and process of reform.
12 March 2010: Agreements are signed to launch a new project that will help Georgia safely dispose of explosive remnants of war.
March 2010: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili visits NATO Headquarters to meet NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
April 2010: Georgia signs an agreement with NATO to contribute to Operation Active Endeavour, NATO's maritime counter-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean.
August 2010: The North Atlantic Council decides to enhance NATO-Georgia relations through effective military cooperation (this leads to the development and implementation of the first annual Military Committee with Georgia Work Plan in 2011).
October 2010: The NATO Liaison Office is inaugurated in Tbilisi during the NATO Secretary General's visit to Georgia, where he meets the Georgian president, prime minister and senior ministers.
November 2010: At the Lisbon Summit, Allied leaders recall their agreement that Georgia will become a member of NATO and reaffirm all elements of their decision made at the Bucharest Summit in 2008, declaring their active support for Georgia's continued implementation of all necessary reforms. They reiterate their continued support for Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders.
April 2011: NGC foreign ministers meet in Berlin and adopt, for the first time, a joint statement which reaffirms the basic principles of NATO-Georgia cooperation. NATO ministers express strong appreciation for Georgia's substantial contribution to Euro-Atlantic security and the overall positive dynamic in Georgia's democratic development
November 2011: The North Atlantic Council pays a visit to Tbilisi and Batumi and meets the president, the chairman of the parliament, the prime minister and other high-level officials of the country, as well as representatives of civil society, media and the opposition. The NGC agrees to pursue further work on concrete measures to enhance Georgia's relations with NATO. As a follow-up to this visit, the NGC adopts a set of measures to support reforms, increase the ability of NATO and Georgia to operate together, and strengthen the capacity of the Georgian institutions as the country continues on its path towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
April 2012: President Saakashvili visits NATO Headquarters to meet the Secretary General and attend a meeting of the NGC Ambassadors.
May 2012: At the Chicago Summit, Allied leaders recall their agreement that Georgia will become a member of NATO and reaffirm all elements of the decision made at the Bucharest Summit in 2008, and agree to enhance Georgia’s connectivity with NATO. Georgia takes part in three important meetings involving partners at the Chicago Summit: President Saakashvili joins counterparts from countries that are supporting the NATO-led stabilisation mission in Afghanistan. He also attends a meeting of the 28 Allies with 13 countries from Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region that have made exceptional contributions to the Alliance's agenda in the last few years. Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze joins fellow foreign ministers from the three other countries that are aspiring to NATO membership for a meeting with NATO’s Deputy Secretary General.
September 2012: During a visit to Georgia, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen praises Georgia for its strong commitment to NATO and to democratic reforms, after talks with President Mikheil Saakashvili.
October 2012: Georgia doubles its contribution to ISAF, making the country one of the largest non-NATO troop contributor nations.
November 2012: The Secretary General meets with President Saakashvili in Prague on the occasion of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and with Prime Minister Ivanishvili at NATO Headquarters.
December 2012: During an NGC meeting of foreign ministers, the Allies encourage all parties in Georgia to keep up the momentum of the recent elections and to consolidate democratic progress; they also thank Georgia for its substantial contribution to NATO's mission in Afghanistan.
June 2013: NGC defence ministers discuss Georgia's reform plans and further opportunities for cooperation. Ministers also thank Georgia, the biggest non-NATO contributor to ISAF, for the significant contribution to NATO-led operations.
26-27 June 2013: The North Atlantic Council visits Georgia to assess the progress the country has made towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
October 2013: NATO's Secretary General expresses concern about Russia's continued activity in erecting fences and other obstacles along administrative boundary lines within Georgia, which is in contradiction with international commitments. Later that month, he congratulates the Georgian people on holding transparent and peaceful presidential elections in which fundamental freedoms of expression, movement, and assembly were respected.
September 2014: Georgian President Giorgi Margeslashvili attends the Wales Summit in September, where NATO leaders endorse the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package to help Georgia in its efforts to improve its defence capabilities and to achieve its goal of NATO membership. Georgia is considered to be one of the five biggest contributors to NATO's operations and other objectives and is therefore eligible for enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with the Alliance. Georgia is invited to participate in the Interoperability Platform, under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative, as well as the Defence and Related Security Capacity-Building Initiative, launched during the Summit.
24 November 2014: In a statement, the NATO Secretary General underlines that the Allies do not recognise the so-called treaty on alliance and strategic partnership signed between the Georgian region of Abkhazia and Russia. He reiterates the Allies’ call for Russia to reverse its recognition of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states and to withdraw its forces from Georgia.
January 2015: Following the completion of the ISAF operation in Afghanistan in December 2014, Georgia starts contributing to the follow-on NATO-led mission (“Resolute Support”) to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions.
29-30 January 2015: Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow visits Georgia for meetings with the Georgian leadership. Speaking to the press, he says that Georgia is well on the way towards realising its sovereign choice of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
5 February 2015: NGC defence ministers meet in Brussels to take stock of the implementation of the package of measures launched at the Wales Summit to improve its defence capabilities.
18 March 2015: The Secretary General states that NATO does not recognise the so-called treaty on alliance and integration signed between the South Ossetia region of Georgia and Russia on 18 March. He underlines that this is yet another move by Russia that hampers ongoing efforts by the international community to strengthen security and stability in the region. He reiterates the Allies’ call for Russia to reverse its recognition of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states and to withdraw its forces from Georgia.