NATO’s relations with Georgia

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  • Last updated: 18 Nov. 2014 18:01

Georgia is an aspirant for NATO membership. It actively contributes to NATO-led operations and cooperates with the Allies and other partner countries in many other areas. The NATO-Georgia Commission provides a unique framework through which NATO and Georgia pursue active political dialogue and practical cooperation in support of Georgia’s reform efforts and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

Joint press point by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili of Georgia

Prime Minister Garibashvili of Georgia and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (Nov. 2014)

In September 2008, NATO and Georgia established the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) to oversee NATO’s assistance to Georgia following the conflict with Russia. The NGC plays a central role in supervising the process set in hand at the Bucharest Summit where NATO leaders agreed that Georgia will become a member of NATO. In December 2008, Allied Foreign Ministers agreed that Georgia should develop an Annual National Programme (ANP) under the auspices of the NGC. In this framework, the Alliance is maximising its advice, assistance and support for Georgia’s reform efforts, in particular in the field of democratic, institutional and defence reforms.

At the 2014 Wales Summit, Allied leaders reaffirmed all elements of their decision made at the Bucharest Summit, and welcomed Georgia’s progress since then to meet its Euro-Atlantic aspirations through reforms, the conduct of transparent and peaceful elections, implementation of its ANP and active political engagement with the Alliance within the NGC. NATO leaders also endorsed a substantial package for Georgia to strengthen its defence and interoperability capabilities with the Alliance, therefore helping it advance in its preparations towards NATO membership. The details of the package will be developed together with Georgia and it will include defence capacity-building, training, exercises, strengthened liaison, and enhanced interoperability opportunities. Moreover Allies reiterated NATO’s continued support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders and once again called on Russia to withdraw its forces from Georgia and reverse the recognition for the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia as independent states.

Another important area of cooperation is Georgia’s support for NATO-led operations. Georgia is one of the largest non-NATO troop-contributors to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and continues to serve as a transit country for ISAF supplies. The country has also indicated its willingness to participate in the post-2014 follow-on mission – Resolute Support - to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces, after the transition to Afghan full security responsibility is completed at the end of 2014, when ISAF’s mission will end. Georgia also supports Operation Active Endeavour, NATO’s counter-terrorist maritime surveillance operation in the Mediterranean.

Georgia has offered to participate in the NATO Response Force and is expected to contribute to the NRF from 2015 onwards.

  • Framework for cooperation

    The NGC provides the framework for cooperation between NATO and Georgia. Created in September 2008, it serves as a forum for both political consultations and practical cooperation to help Georgia advance its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Existing cooperation programmes, such as the Planning and Review Process (PARP), continue to take place within the framework of the NGC. A NATO Liaison Office was established in Georgia in 2010 to assist and support the country’s reform efforts.

    In December 2008, NATO Foreign Ministers decided to further enhance the NGC through the development of an ANP. The ANP, the first of which was finalised in spring 2009, replaced the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), which had guided NATO-Georgia cooperation since 2004.

    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. Current 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.

    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).

    In parallel with the establishment of the NGC, the Military Committee with Georgia was also 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.

  • Key areas of cooperation

    Security cooperation

    Thanks to regular participation in 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.

    In Afghanistan, Georgia is providing forces in various locations. Georgia is currently one of the largest contributors to ISAF among NATO’s partner countries. Furthermore, Georgia is ready to continue to serve as a transit country for ISAF supplies. It has also indicated its willingness to participate in the post-2014 NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces, which will be deployed once the transition to Afghan security lead has been completed and ISAF’s operation is terminated end 2014. The Georgian government has also pledged financial support for the future development of the Afghan National Security Forces. In the meantime, NATO has adopted a Partnership Interoperability Initiative to ensure that bonds forged between Allied and partner countries in Afghanistan are maintained. As part of this initiative, Georgia participates in the Interoperability Platform launched at the Wales Summit that will bring Allies together with 24 partners active in NATO’s operations. Georgia has also been identified as one of the five countries that make particularly significant contributions to NATO operations and NATO’s other objectives, to discuss deepening dialogue and practical cooperation even further.

    Georgia participates in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour, a counter-terrorist maritime surveillance operation in the Mediterranean, primarily through intelligence exchange. It 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.

    Defence and security sector reform

    NATO is supportive of the wide-ranging democratic and institutional reform process underway in Georgia, as outlined in its ANP. Particularly in the area of defence and security sector reform, NATO and individual Allies have considerable expertise upon which Georgia can draw.

    Georgia’s participation in the 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. More recently, the package for Georgia endorsed at the Wales Summit in September 2014, includes defence capacity-building, training, exercises, strengthened liaison and enhanced interoperability opportunities – measures that will help Georgia progress towards NATO membership. Additionally, the aforementioned Partnership Interoperability Initiative, as well as the newly created Defence and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative, build on this package.  

    A key priority for Georgia is to ensure democratic control of the armed forces, including effective judicial oversight and appropriate defence command and control arrangements through a range of measurable objectives within the ANP.

    Education and training are also key objectives of Georgia’s ANP and reform efforts. NATO is leading a tailored programme for Georgia – the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) – with the support of the PfP Consortium of Defence Academies and Security Studies Institutes, the Partnerships Training and Education Centres and Allied defence institutions.

    Following Georgia’s request in 2008, NATO and Georgia launched a Professional Development Programme for Civilian Personnel in the Ministry of Defence and other Security Institutions in 2009. The programme 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 this programme is closely aligned to Georgia’s defence and security sector reform objectives outlined in both the ANP and PARP. Current priorities are to support Georgia’s civil service reform and enhance Georgia’s own capacity for providing training to security sector civilian personnel.

    Another priority in the area of defence and security sector reform has been to support demilitarisation projects in Georgia through the NATO/PfP 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 Trust Fund projects have helped to address problems posed by stockpiles of surplus and obsolete weapons and munitions, and promoted their safe disposal.

    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. Some 1,000 people from 35 countries participated in the exercise, which was organised in cooperation with the Emergency Management Department of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

    Science and environment

    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.

    Today, scientists and experts from Georgia are working to address a wide range of security issues, notably in the fields of environmental security, cyber defence, advanced technology (including nanotechnology) and disaster forecast and prevention of natural catastrophes. Most recently, Georgian experts contributed to a hands-on cyber defence training course based on their national experience and expertise. Other projects include collaboration on improving trans-boundary water management and mitigating the risks posed by earthquakes in the South Caucasus.

    Public information

    Increasing the public awareness of NATO and its relations with Georgia is also a key area of cooperation.  Since 2002, NATO has been organising numerous activities for this purpose, working through its Liaison Office in Tbilisi 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 highest 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.

  • Response to the Georgian crisis

    At an emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Council on 19 August 2008, Allied Foreign Ministers called for a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict based on respect for Georgia's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

    Allied Foreign Ministers deplored the use of force in the conflict, 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. They 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. Allies also called on Russia to take immediate action to withdraw its troops from the areas it must leave under the terms of the six-point agreement brokered by the European Union.

    The Allies agreed to support Georgia, upon its request, in a number of areas. These included 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 the decision by the Russian Federation to extend recognition to the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia, and called on Russia to reverse its decision.

    NATO continues to support Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders as reiterated at meetings of Allied Heads of State and Government and in the Secretary General’s statements. The Secretary General has issued statements underlining that NATO does not recognise elections that have since taken place in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and that the holding of such elections does not contribute to a peaceful and lasting settlement.

    The Allies welcome the declaration by the Georgian President – endorsed by the Georgian Parliament in a unanimously adopted resolution on Georgia’s foreign policy objectives – to seek a resolution to the crises with the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia 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.

  • Milestones in relations

    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 aimed at increasing 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.

    1997

    Georgian Parliament ratifies the SOFA agreement.

    1999

    Georgia joins the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP).

    Georgia starts contributing peacekeepers to the Kosovo Force (KFOR).

    2001

    Georgia hosts a multinational PfP military training exercise "Cooperative Partner 2001".

    2002

    Georgia is connected to the Virtual Silk Highway.

    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.

    2003

    A NATO/PfP Trust Fund project is launched with Georgia to support the demilitarization of ground-to-air defence missiles.

    Georgia participates in ISAF's election security force in Afghanistan.

    At the Istanbul Summit, Allied leaders place special focus on the Caucasus – a special NATO 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.

    Georgia opens an information centre on NATO with the support of NATO's Public Diplomacy Division.

    2006

    NATO offers an Intensified Dialogue to Georgia.

    2007

    Georgia hosts a NATO/PfP air exercise, "Cooperative Archer 2007".

    2008

    At their Summit in Bucharest, NATO leaders agree Georgia will become a member of NATO.

    In August, 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 supervise the process set at hand at the Bucharest Summit and to oversee the implementation of support measures.

    In September, 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, Allied Foreign Ministers agree to the development of an Annual National Programme (ANP) under the auspices of the NGC.

    2009

    On 4 February, the Georgian foreign minister, vice prime minister and defence minister visit NATO for the first meeting of the NGC in 2009.

    On 20 February, Allied and Georgian defence ministers discuss Georgia's progress in defence reform and its priorities.

    On 5 March, the NGC meets in Brussels for the second time at the level of foreign ministers to discuss a range of issues of common interest.

    Mid-March 2009, a NATO-led team of experts visits Georgia to address a Georgian request to review the existing military education and training system, and develop a plan of action for reform.

    May 2009, the first Steering Committee meeting for the NATO-Georgia Professional Development Programme for Civilian Personnel of the Georgian Ministry of Defence and Other Security Institutions takes place at NATO Headquarters, Brussels.

    Following elections on 31 May in the South Ossetia region of Georgia, NATO's Secretary General issues a statement saying that NATO does not recognise the elections and that the holding of such elections does not contribute to a peaceful and lasting settlement of the situation in Georgia.

    On 3 December, the NGC meets to discuss the course of Georgia's Euro-Atlantic integration and process of reform.

    2010

    On 12 March, key agreements are signed to begin a Trust Fund project that will help Georgia safely dispose of explosive remnants of war.

    In March, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili visits NATO Headquarters to meet NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

    In April, Georgia signs an agreement with NATO to contribute to Operation Active Endeavour, NATO's maritime counter-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean.

    In May, Georgian Foreign Ministry hosts a seminar on "Energy Security and Critical Energy Infrastructure" in Tbilisi.

    In May, Allies and Georgia Chiefs of Defence meet in the Military Committee to discuss and support the transformation process of the Georgian Armed Forces.

    In August, 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).

    In October, NATO Liaison Office is inaugurated during the NATO Secretary General's visit to Georgia, where he meets the Georgian President, Prime Minister and senior ministers.

    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.

    In February, the Director General of the International Military Staff of NATO visits Georgia to discuss the status and prospect of NATO-Georgia military-to-military cooperation.

    2011

    In April, 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.

    In June, the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia visits NATO Headquarters for a meeting of the NGC and informs Allies about key democratic reforms in his country.

    In May, the Military Committee with Georgia meets at the level of Chiefs of Defence to discuss Georgia's contributions to operations and the status of the implementation of defence reforms derived from the strategic defence review.

    In July, the Georgian Foreign Ministry hosts a conference on emerging security challenges with the support of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme.

    In August, SACEUR visits Georgia to discuss Georgia's current and future contribution to operations.

    Following so-called presidential elections on 26 August in the Abkhazia region of Georgia, NATO's Secretary General states that NATO does not recognise the elections and that the holding of such elections does not contribute to a peaceful and lasting settlement of the situation in Georgia.

    In November, 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.

    Following so-called presidential elections on 13 November in the South Ossetia region of Georgia, NATO's Secretary General issues a statement saying that NATO does not recognise the elections and that the holding of such elections does not contribute to a peaceful and lasting settlement of the situation in Georgia. As a follow-up to the North Atlantic Council's visit to Georgia, the NGC adopts a set of concrete measures to enhance Georgia's connectivity with NATO. These measures 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.

    2012

    As a follow-up to the North Atlantic Council's visit to Georgia, the NGC adopts a set of concrete measures to enhance Georgia's connectivity with NATO. These measures 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.

    In April 2012, President Saakashvili visits NATO Headquarters to meet the Secretary General and attend a meeting of the NGC Ambassadors.

    In May, Georgia takes part in three important meetings involving partners at the Chicago Summit: President Mikheil 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.

    In September, NATO Secretary General visits Georgia.

    In October, Georgia doubles its contribution to ISAF, making the country one of the largest non-NATO troop contributor nations.

    In November, 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.

    In December, 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.

    2013

    In June, NGC Defence Ministers discuss Georgia's reform plans and further opportunities for cooperation. Ministers also thanked Georgia, the biggest non-NATO contributor to ISAF, for the significant contribution to NATO-led operations.

    On 26 and 27 June, the North Atlantic Council visits Georgia to assess the progress the country has made towards Euro-Atlantic integration. In October, 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.

    2014 At the Wales Summit in September, NATO leaders endorse the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package to help Georgia in its efforts toward reaching 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.

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