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 1999-2008, providing a company-sized unit as part of the German brigade there and an infantry platoon within a Turkish battalion task force.
Georgia currently provides two full infantry battalions serving with United States’ forces, an infantry company serving with the French contingent in Kabul, medical personnel to assist ISAF within the Lithuanian Provincial Reconstruction Team and some individual staff officers. With a total of over 1500 military personnel, Georgia is one of the largest contributors to ISAF among NATO’s partner countries. The Georgian Parliament has approved plans to contribute additional troops to ISAF in autumn 2012, which would make Georgia the largest non-NATO troop contributor.
Georgia participates in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour, a counter-terrorist maritime surveillance operation in the Mediterranean, primarily through intelligence exchange.
Georgia 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 Planning and Review Process (PARP) since 1999 has helped develop the ability of its forces 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 and 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.
A key priority for Georgia is to ensure democratic control of the armed forces. Georgia’s participation in the Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building (PAP-DIB) is reinforcing these efforts, such as by promoting effective judicial oversight and appropriate defence command and control arrangements through a range of measurable objectives within the ANP.
Education and training is also a key objective 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 Georgia 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.
Another priority in the area of defence and security-sector reform has been to support demilitarization 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. Two Trust Fund projects have helped to address problems posed by stockpiles of surplus and obsolete weapons and munitions, and led to the safe destruction of 530 missiles in 2006, as well as 1080 S-8 missiles, 5,724 Alazan and 1,976 Kristall rockets in 2009. A third Trust Fund project, launched in October 2010, helped to build capacity in Georgia for the safe disposal of mines and other unexploded munitions, as well as for the rehabilitation of victims injured by explosions.
Civil emergency planning
Georgia is enhancing its national civil emergency and disaster-management capabilities in cooperation with NATO and through participation in activities organized 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.
From 22 to 28 September 2012, Georgia hosted an EADRCC consequence-management field exercise in the vicinity of the capital Tbilisi, which was organized in cooperation with the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Emergency Management Department. One of the biggest EADRCC exercises, it brought together expert teams from Allies and partner nations as well as international organizations specialized in chemical biological radiological and nuclear agents, search and rescue, water rescue, fire fighting, medical support and technical assistance. All together 1000 people from 35 nations participated in the exercise (450 international, 550 from Georgia, 50+ observers).
Science and environment
Scientists and researchers from Georgia benefit from opportunities offered under the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, which promotes collaboration, networking and capacity building among scientists from NATO and partner countries. Activities supported include research, seminars, workshops and joint studies on security-related scientific issues and environmental concerns. NATO has two key priorities for scientific collaboration: defence against terrorism and countering other threats to security.
Georgia has been involved in NATO science activities since 1994. In total, scientists and experts from Georgia have had leading roles in 132 activities, and more have joined various cooperative activities as participants and key speakers. Many activities are aimed at aiding the country’s reform and interoperability efforts, such as research and technology in air defence systems and data standardization, and reducing the environmental impact of military activities and munitions disposal. Other projects include collaboration on improving transboundary water quality and mitigating the risks posed by earthquakes in the southern Caucasus.
Increasing the public awareness of NATO and its relations with Georgia is also a key area of cooperation. Since 2002, in cooperation with local non-governmental organizations and state authorities, NATO, through its Liaison Office in Tbilisi, has been organizing numerous activities to this end, including seminars, conferences and workshops. “NATO Weeks” and summer schools are organized on an annual basis to reach out to youth audiences. This year’s “NATO Week”, which took place in June with a programme of events at various locations all over the country, celebrated the progress achieved in NATO-Georgia relations, most recently at the Chicago Summit.
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.
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.