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NATO’s relations with Georgia

NATO and Georgia actively cooperate on democratic, institutional, and defence reforms, with the aim of preparing Georgia for eventual membership in the Alliance, as agreed by Allied leaders in Bucharest in April 2008. 

In September 2008, NATO and Georgia established the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) to oversee NATO assistance to Georgia following the recent conflict with Russia and to oversee the process begun in Bucharest. In December 2008, Allied foreign ministers agreed that Georgia should develop an Annual National Programme under the auspices of the NGC.

Another important area of cooperation is the Georgia’s support for NATO-led operations. Georgia is actively contributing to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and also supports Operation Active Endeavour, NATO’s anti-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean Sea.

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 include 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.

Framework for cooperation

The NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) provides the framework for cooperation between NATO and Georgia.  Created in September 2008, the NGC serves as a forum for both political consultations and practical cooperation to help Georgia achieve its goal of membership in NATO.  Existing cooperation programmes, such as the Intensified Dialogue on Georgia’s membership aspirations and the Planning and Review Process (PARP), continue to take place within the context of the NGC.

In December 2009, NATO foreign ministers decided to further enhance the NGC through the development of an Annual National Programme (ANP), as well as the establishment of a NATO Liaison Office in Tbilisi.  The ANP, which will be finalised in spring 2009, will replace the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), which has guided NATO-Georgia cooperation since 2004.

Key areas of cooperation under the ANP will include political, military and security-sector reforms. NATO agrees to support Georgia in these reforms by providing focused, country-specific advice tailored 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 security sector, in particular revision of Georgia’s national security plans following the August 2008 conflict.

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).

Georgia tailors its participation in the PfP programme through an annual Individual Partnership Programme, selecting those activities that will help achieve the goals set in the ANP.

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 peace-support 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.  

A platoon-sized unit served alongside a British battalion in ISAF, helping to secure the environment to allow the conduct of the presidential elections in Afghanistan in 2004. Georgia continues to provide important support in allowing supplies needed for the ISAF troops in Afghanistan to transit though its territory, under an agreement signed with NATO in March 2005. Georgia currently provides medical personnel to assist ISAF within the Lithuanian Provincial Reconstruction Team, and discussions are ongoing about further contributions Georgia may make to the ISAF mission.

Georgia has declared one light infantry battalion available, on case by case basis, for PfP operations. It has also made logistics facilities and a mountain training site available for PfP activities.

Georgia contributes to the fight against terrorism through its participation in the Partnership Action Plan on Terrorism (PAP-T). This includes sharing intelligence and analysis with NATO, enhancing national counter-terrorist capabilities and improving border security.  Georgia participates in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour, an anti-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean Sea, primarily through intelligence exchange.

Defence and security sector reform

NATO is supportive of the wide-ranging democratic and institutional reform process underway in Georgia, which is 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.

A key priority for Georgia is to ensure democratic control of the armed forces. A civilian defence minister has been appointed, who is now served by a civilian-staffed Ministry of Defence. In addition, the parliament’s Defence and Security Committee also plays a role in monitoring defence activities.  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.

Georgia’s participation in the PfP 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.

NATO and Georgia cooperate on the conversion and management of military sites and other areas. Moreover, through a NATO/PfP Trust Fund amounting to €1 million,  individual Allies and Partners have supported a project in Georgia aimed at demilitarizing over 500 ground-to-air defence and other missiles. In September 2008, implementation started on the destruction of further stockpiles of rockets and missiles under a second Trust Fund project.

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 EADRCC helped coordinate the delivery of hundreds of tons 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, and in 2006, when forest fires broke out in southern Georgia.

Science and environment

Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, Georgia has received grant awards for over 40 projects for scientific and environmental collaboration. Many activities are aimed at aiding Georgia’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 trans-boundary water quality and a range of security-related studies including effective counter-terrorism and maritime security and network technology. Georgia also participates in the Virtual Silk Highway project, which aims to improve internet access through a satellite-based network.

Public information

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 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.

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.

NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division has also supported the creation of a National Information Centre on NATO, which has become the focal point for dissemination of information.

Evolution of relations

NATO-Georgia relations date back to 1992, when Georgia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later renamed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997), upon gaining independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Cooperation deepened and broadened after Georgia joined the Partnership for Peace programme inn 1994 and the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) in 1999.

After the “Rose Revolution” in 2003, the focus on supporting Georgia’s domestic reform process intensified, in particular through the development of the Georgia’s first IPAP with NATO in 2004. Georgia was granted an Intensified Dialogue on membership aspirations in September 2006.  At their Summit in Bucharest in April 2008, NATO leaders agreed that Georgia would become a member of the Alliance. 

In September 2008, NATO and Georgia inaugurated the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC), which now oversees all aspects of the NATO-Georgia relationship.  In December 2008, Allied foreign ministers agreed to the development of an Annual National Programme (ANP) under the NGC.  Future decisions on Georgia’s eventual membership in NATO will be based on Georgia’s performance in implementing key reforms laid out in the ANP.

Key milestones
1992 Georgia joins the newly created North Atlantic Cooperation Council, renamed 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 the NATO and Partner countries
1997 Georgian Parliament ratifies the SOFA agreement
1999 Georgia joins the PfP Planning and Review Process
  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.
2005 Georgia becomes the first country to agree an IPAP with NATO.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, the 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.