Relations with Georgia
Georgia is one of NATO’s closest partners. It aspires to join the Alliance. Over time, a broad range of practical cooperation has developed between NATO and Georgia, which supports Georgia’s reform efforts and its goal of Euro-Atlantic integration. The country contributes to the NATO-led operation Sea Guardian and cooperates with the Allies and other partner countries in many other areas.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili (March 2019)
- Georgia regained independence in 1991. The following year, NATO established relations with the country when it joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. This forum for dialogue was succeeded in 1997 by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, which brings together all Allies and partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic area.
- Practical bilateral cooperation started when Georgia joined the Partnership for Peace (1994) and deepened after the “Rose Revolution” in 2003, when a new government pushed for more ambitious reforms.
- Allies agreed at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Georgia will become a NATO member, provided it meets all necessary requirements – this decision has since been reconfirmed at successive NATO Summits.
- 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.
- Since 2008, the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) provides the framework for close political dialogue and cooperation in support of reform efforts and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Preparations for eventual membership are taken forward through the development and implementation of successive Annual National Programmes. In July 2018, Heads of State and Government met with Georgia and adopted a Declaration that marked the NGC’s tenth anniversary.
- At the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, 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 defence capabilities were taken at the NATO Summits in Warsaw in 2016 and in Brussels in 2018. A refreshed Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) with new timelines and updated ambitions was adopted in December 2020.
- At the 2022 Madrid Summit, Allies endorsed a set of tailored support measures for Georgia, as one of NATO’s partners most directly affected by external threats and interference in the current security environment resulting from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
- A NATO Liaison Office was established in Georgia in 2010 to support the country’s reform efforts and its programme of cooperation with NATO.
- The NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia is responsible for the overall coordination of NATO’s partnership policy in these two strategically important regions. The Special Representative works closely with regional leaders to enhance their cooperation with the Alliance and provides high-level support for the work of the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia (with a regional South Caucasus mandate).
- Georgia provides valued support for the NATO-led Operation Sea Guardian.
Key areas of cooperation
Georgia's cooperation with NATO is mutually beneficial and includes:
Building capabilities and interoperability
Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP)
The Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) is the main vehicle for practical cooperation between Georgia and NATO. First launched in 2014, the package aims to strengthen Georgia's defence capabilities in line with NATO standards and help Georgia advance in its preparations for eventual NATO membership.
The Substantial NATO-Georgia Package aims to support the following objectives:
- to act as a catalyst for the implementation of Georgia's defence reforms;
- to enhance Georgia's interoperability with NATO;
- to support Georgia's efforts to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security;
- to enhance accountability and transparency;
- to enhance Georgia's resilience;
- to enhance Georgia's interagency coordination and interaction; and
- to bring Georgia closer to the Alliance.
In 2020, a thorough review was conducted by NATO together with the Georgian foreign affairs, defence and interior ministries, as well as with the Georgian Defence Forces and the Coast Guard. This review led to an upgraded Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which was endorsed by foreign ministers in December 2020. The upgraded package continues to encompass multiple domains (air, land, sea, cyberspace) and includes support activities at the tactical, operational and strategic levels, including conducting regular joint NATO-Georgia exercises. The upgraded package consists of 16 initiatives, three of which are completely new. These three initiatives are meant to support Georgia in the development of a deployable military medical capacity; to improve Georgia's English language training capacity; and to improve the codification and standardization system, which will ensure an even higher level of interoperability of new Georgian defence projects and programmes with NATO requirements.
The level of ambition for ongoing initiatives has also been increased, including through the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre and the Defence Institution Building School. These initiatives aim to secure communications between Georgia and NATO, to strengthen Georgia’s cyber defence capacity and to improve the country's military capabilities (land, air and maritime). The renewed aviation and maritime initiatives also seek to ensure Georgia will have better situational awareness. For all of these initiatives, new or updated, Georgia and NATO have agreed on end states with concrete, detailed implementation plans for the coming years.
The NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre in Georgia hosts live and simulated training exercises and certification for military units from Allied and partner countries. The most recent NATO-Georgia exercise took place in March 2022 and the next one is scheduled to be held in March 2025. Allies have provided the funding for a number of vehicles for the Centre.
Tailored support measures following Russia’s war on Ukraine
At the 2022 Madrid Summit, Allies endorsed a set of tailored support measures for Georgia, as one of NATO’s partners most directly affected by external threats and interference in the current security environment resulting from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
These measures step up both political and practical support to Georgia. The political measures aim to intensify the dialogue between Georgia and NATO. The practical measures aim to help Georgia accelerate its transition from Soviet-era equipment to equipment meeting today’s NATO standards, and enhance Georgia’s situational awareness.
Some of the NATO support will build on existing initiatives through the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, but new initiatives may also be included, for instance to enhance Georgia’s capabilities in the field of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) protection.
First launched in 2009, a Professional Development Programme for civilian personnel is strengthening the capacity for democratic management and oversight in the defence ministry and other security sector institutions.
Georgia participates in the Building Integrity initiative, which provides practical assistance and advice for strengthening integrity, accountability and transparency in the defence and security sector.
Georgia is one of five countries that have enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with the Allies (known as 'Enhanced Opportunity Partners') in recognition of their particularly significant contributions to NATO operations and other Alliance objectives. The other Enhanced Opportunity Partners are Australia, Jordan, Sweden and Ukraine.
Georgia is also building capacity and interoperability through participation in the NATO Response Force.
Support for NATO-led operations
- Georgia contributed troops to the Kosovo Force (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 in Afghanistan, which completed its mission in 2014. It also was one of the top overall contributors to the follow-on Resolute Support Mission (2015-2021) to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces.
- Georgia participated in Operation Active Endeavour, a counter-terrorist maritime surveillance operation in the Mediterranean Sea, primarily through intelligence exchange. Since 2016, the country supports maritime situational awareness in the context of maritime Operation Sea Guardian.
- A number of Trust Fund projects supported by individual Allies and partner countries have helped Georgia to safely dispose of stockpiles of surplus and obsolete weapons and munitions, and to clear mines and unexploded munitions including from the ammunition depot at Skra (near Gori).
- Georgia is strengthening its national civil preparedness and resilience with the support of NATO. Practical cooperation with the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) is also enhancing crisis management capabilities and interoperability, allowing Georgia to contribute to numerous international disaster relief efforts. The EADRCC has coordinated assistance to Georgia following an earthquake and forest fires.
- Georgia has been actively engaged in the Science for Peace and Security Programme since 1994. Activities led by Georgia have addressed a broad range of challenges, notably in the fields of environmental and energy security, counter-terrorism, cyber defence, defence against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents, and Women, Peace and Security. In particular, experts from Georgia are contributing to a top-down project that will develop an innovative platform for the rapid and effective management of crises following a terrorist attack with chemical and biological agents.
Response to the Russia-Georgia crisis
At an emergency meeting 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 in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, calling for the immediate withdrawal of its troops from the areas as required 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 Allies condemned and called for the reversal of Russia’s decision to recognise the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states. They continue to support Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders. They do not recognise elections that have since taken place in the breakaway regions, nor the signature of so-called treaties between Russia and these regions.
The Allies welcome Georgia’s efforts to seek a resolution to the conflict with the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia through diplomacy (including the Geneva International Discussions) and reconciliation (such as the “A step towards a better future” peace initiative).