Relations with Georgia
Georgia is one of the Alliance’s closest partners. It aspires to join the Alliance. The country actively contributes to the NATO-led operation Sea Guardian and cooperates with the Allies and other partner countries in many other areas. 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.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili (March 2019)
- Shortly after Georgia regained independence in 1991, relations with NATO started, when the country joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in 1992. 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 which marked the NGC’s tenth anniversary.
- 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 defence capabilities were taken at the NATO Summits in Warsaw in 2016 and in Brussels in 2018. A refreshed Substantial NATO-Georgia Package with new timelines and updated ambitions is expected to be adopted before the end of 2020.
- 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 provides valued support for the NATO-led operation Sea Guardian.
Georgia's cooperation with NATO is mutually beneficial and includes:
Building capabilities and interoperability
- The Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) has become the main vehicle for practical cooperation between Georgia and NATO since it was first launched in 2014.
- The package aims to strengthen Georgia's defence and interoperability capabilities with the Alliance 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.
- During 2020, a thorough review was conducted by NATO together with various Georgian ministries (such as defence, internal affairs and foreign affairs), as well as the Georgian Defence Forces and the Coast Guard. This review led to a completely refreshed Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which was endorsed by foreign ministers in November 2020.
- The new package will continue to encompass most domains (air, land, sea, cyber) and include support activities at the tactical, operational and strategic levels, including conducting regular joint NATO-Georgia exercises.
- The package will consist of 16 initiatives, three of which are completely new. These new 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 would ensure a high level of interoperability of new Georgian defence projects and programmes with NATO requirements. The ambition level of other initiatives has also been increased. This applies to the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre and the Defence Institution Building School, to secure communications between Georgia and NATO, and cyber defence, as well as to a range of initiatives aimed at improving the country's military capabilities (land, air and maritime). The renewed aviation and maritime initiatives seek now also to ensure Georgia will have better situational awareness. For all these initiatives – new or updated – Georgia and NATO have agreed on end states with concrete, detailed implementation plans for the coming years.
- A 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 2019, the next one is envisaged for March 2022). Allies have provided the funding for a number of vehicles for the Centre.
- 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 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.
- Georgia is also one of six countries which have enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with the Allies (known as 'Enhanced Opportunity Partners'¹) in recognition of their particularly significant contributions to NATO operations and other Alliance objectives.
- 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 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 to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces.
- Georgia participated in Operation Active Endeavour, a counter-terrorist maritime surveillance operation in the Mediterranean, 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 ammunitions 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. Notably, 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.
- Georgian government and local non-governmental organisations seek to provide public information on NATO and its relations with Georgia, with the support of the NATO Liaison Office.
- Enhanced Opportunity Partners: Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, Sweden and Ukraine.
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, which is incompatible with its peacekeeping role 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 crises with the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia through peaceful means. They also welcome the steps Georgia has taken unilaterally towards Russia in recent years.