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.
During a visit to Georgia in August 2015, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg inaugurates the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre at the Krtsanisi Military Facility
- Shortly after Georgia regained independence in 1991, the country joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (1992) and Partnership for Peace (1994).
- Dialogue and cooperation deepened after the “Rose Revolution” in 2003, when the new government pushed for more ambitious 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, 2014 and 2016.
- Following the Russia-Georgia crisis 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 substantial package of measures was launched to strengthen Georgia’s ability to defend itself and advance its preparations for membership. Further steps to help strengthen Georgia’s defence capabilities were taken at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016.
- Georgia has provided valued support for NATO-led operations, in particular in Afghanistan.
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 (KFOR) from 1999 to 2008, providing a company-sized unit as part of the German brigade 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) in Afghanistan, which completed its mission in 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 offer 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 participated in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour, a counter-terrorist maritime surveillance operation in the Mediterranean, primarily through intelligence exchange. The country continues to support NATO’s maritime situational awareness in the context of maritime operation Sea Guardian, which was launched in 2016.
Moreover, Georgia currently participates in the NATO Response Force (NRF).
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. Moreover, over the years, since first hosting a PfP military training exercise in 2001, Georgia has hosted a number of multinational exercises involving NATO Allies and partner countries.
At the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, Georgia was invited to participate in the Interoperability Platform that brings Allies together with 24 partners that are active contributors to NATO’s operations. Georgia became also one of five countries (known as ‘Enhanced Opportunity Partners'1) 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 Allied leaders endorsed a Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP). 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 is embedded in the defence ministry and complemented by experts in over a dozen specific areas of work. As of spring 2018, some 21 resident advisors and a similar number of non-resident advisors from NATO member states and partner countries are providing support to the package. Essentially, all NATO Allies are currently supporting Georgia through the SNGP in the form of expertise and/or resources.
Moreover, a Joint Training and Evaluation Centre has been 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 are conducted in Georgia periodically. The most recent one took place in late 2016 and the next iteration is to take place in early 2019. A defence institution building school has been established to make benefit of Georgia’s experience in reforms.
At the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016, a number of initiatives were added to the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, in particular crisis management and counter-mobility. Allies also decided to deepen their focus on security in the Black Sea region.
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 defence 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. The DEEP programme with Georgia started in 2009, focusing on assisting the National Defence University (NDA) and the four-year Military Academy, and supporting the Non-Commissioned Officer Training Centre.
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. A three-year project with a budget of Euro 1.15 million, which was completed in November 2017, helped to clear mines and unexploded munitions from the ammunitions depot at Skra (near Gori).
Georgia is strengthening and reforming the way it organises crisis management and national resilience with the support of NATO. In October 2017, an advisory support team supported the development of a national concept for Critical Infrastructure Protection. In April and May 2018, civil preparedness experts advised Georgian authorities on the new Law on Emergency Management Service.
Practical cooperation with the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) has helped enhance Georgian crisis management capabilities and interoperability through more than 10 EADRCC consequence-management field exercises since 2003. Georgia itself hosted a major EADRCC consequence-management field exercise in 2012. This has allowed Georgia to contribute to numerous international disaster relief efforts and to receive assistance through the EADRCC following floods in July 2005, an earthquake in 2009 and forest fires in August and September 2017.
Security-related scientific cooperation
Georgia has been actively engaged within the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme since 1994. Today, scientists and experts from Georgia are working to address a wide range of security issues, notably in the fields of energy security, support to NATO-led operations, counter-terrorism and the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
One project currently underway aims to improve the conditions for servicemen and women in the Georgian Armed Forces, with a special focus on assessing gender equality, harassment and abuse in the Georgian Armed Forces.
Other SPS activities involving Georgian scientists include an advanced research workshop providing a comprehensive perspective on the security challenges in the eastern part of the Alliance through a tailored set of so-called “black swan” scenarios, and a regional initiative to reduce the risk of geohazards to the Enguri hydroelectrical facility, an important element of Georgia’s energy infrastructure.
Moreover, a recently completed project, led by scientists from the United States and Georgia, designed a prototype system to protect the entrances of bunkers, caves and other underground critical infrastructures - such as refineries and chemical plants - from detonation of thermobaric explosive devices (see video). (More on Georgia’s ongoing cooperation under the SPS Programme).
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 Permanent Representatives to the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal political decision-making body, paid a visit to the country in September 2008 (in the immediate aftermath of the Georgia crisis), in November 2011, in June 2013 and in September 2016.
Georgia has established an Information Center on NATO, which has its main office in Tbilisi and various branches. 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.
- Enhanced Opportunity Partners: Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden
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, and has stated 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.
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). The ANP lays out Georgia’s concrete reform objectives and includes specific timelines and benchmarks.
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. 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. 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.
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 the Planning and Review Process (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. A new exchange of letters establishing the status for NATO personnel in Georgia, signed in May 2017, entered into force in late 2017.
Georgia also cooperates with NATO and other partner countries in a wide range of other areas through the Interoperability Platform, 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 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).
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.
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 International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troop-contributing nations to send supplies for their forces in Afghanistan through Georgia.
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.
12 March 2010: Agreements are signed to launch a new project that will help Georgia safely dispose of explosive remnants of war.
October 2010: The NATO Liaison Office is inaugurated in Tbilisi.
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.
November 2011: The North Atlantic Council pays a visit to Tbilisi and Batumi.
October 2012: Georgia doubles its contribution to ISAF, making the country one of the largest non-NATO troop contributor nations.
September 2014: Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili attends the Wales Summit, 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.
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.
27 August 2015: The NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre at the Krtsanisi Military Facility is inaugurated.
2 December 2015: In a statement on NATO’s “open door” policy, NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels reiterate their decision at Bucharest and subsequent decisions concerning Georgia. They welcome the progress the country has made in coming closer to the Alliance and express their determination to intensify support for Georgia.
8 July 2016: During the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Allied foreign ministers meet their Georgian counterpart to discuss progress and priorities in cooperation between Georgia and NATO, as well as current international security issues. Allies welcome the significant progress in implementing the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package since its launch at the 2014 Wales Summit. They also decide on new steps to intensify cooperation to help strengthen Georgia’s defence capabilities, interoperability and resilience capabilities, including in the areas of training and education, strategic communications, air defence and air surveillance. Allies also agree to deepen their focus on security in the Black Sea region.
10-21 November 2016: A 10-day exercise involving 250 personnel takes place at the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre in Krtsanisi to hone the ability of Georgian staff officers to work alongside Allied counterparts in planning and executing crisis response operations. It is the first exercise where Georgia’s general staff led a multinational crisis response exercise.
August 2017: Following a request for assistance, NATO Allies and partners help Georgia contain a major forest fire in the Samtskhe-Javakheti Region.
6 December 2017: At a meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission, NATO foreign ministers reaffirm their practical and political support for Georgia as well as their commitment to Georgia’s eventual membership of the Alliance. They underline NATO’s strong commitment to Georgia’s security and territorial integrity, calling on Russia to end its recognition of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia and to withdraw its forces from Georgian territory.