Relations between NATO and Georgia date back to 1992 when Georgia joined the North-Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC). The latter was replaced by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in 1997 as a forum for discussions between NATO and partners.
In 1994 Georgia joined the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program and since 1996 has been actively participating in training and exercises within this framework.
Georgia declared its aspiration to NATO membership for the first time at the 2002 Prague Summit and Georgia’s integration process into the Alliance began accordingly.
In 2004 Georgia became the first partner to develop an Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO and undertook specific commitments in the frames of the Action Plan. In 2005 NATO deployed a Liaison Officer to Georgia, whereas the NATO Liaison Office (NLO) was inaugurated in Tbilisi in 2010. The Liaison Office is tasked with supporting ongoing reforms in Georgia and the country’s integration process into the Alliance.
The Alliance undertook a decision to offer an Intensified Dialogue to Georgia at the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers held in New York in 2006. Consultations on political, security, conflict resolution, defence, civil emergency planning, economic, scientific, educational and other issues were held in the frames of the Intensified Dialogue.
Based on the successful implementation of commitments undertaken under the IPAP and progress achieved during cooperation within the Intensified Dialogue, Allied heads of states and governments agreed at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Georgia will become a NATO member. This decision carries a significant political message which was reconfirmed at subsequent NATO Summits.
The Alliance decided to establish a NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) at a special meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers held on 19 August 2008, whereas a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed during the first official visit of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in Georgia in September 2008. On 2-3 December 2008 NATO Foreign Ministers initiated an Annual National Program (ANP) for Georgia under the auspices of the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC).
On 7 December 2011 NATO Headquarters (Brussels) hosted a Foreign Ministers’ meeting where Georgia was formally referred to as the NATO aspirant country together with Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
At the 2014 NATO Wales Summit, the Allies recognized Georgia as one of the most interoperable partners and invited to the “Enhanced Opportunities Partners” (EOP) group together with four other nations (Australia, Jordan, Finland, and Sweden). The abovementioned format grants the country enhanced opportunities of cooperation with NATO.
At the 2014 Wales Summit, the Allies endorsed the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) as part of the Defence and Related Security Capacity Building Initiative (DCB). The SNGP aims at strengthening Georgia’s defense capabilities, enhancing its interoperability with NATO and advancing its preparations for membership.
A statement on NATO’s “open door policy” was adopted at the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting held on 1-2 December 2015 in Brussels. By inviting Montenegro to the Alliance as the 29th member, NATO reaffirmed its commitment to the “open door” policy. The Allies reiterated their Bucharest Summit decision according to which Georgia will become a member of NATO. It is noteworthy that for the first time the Allies publicly confirmed that Georgia has all practical tools to prepare for membership. In the statement, the Allied Ministers welcomed the progress made by Georgia with regard to reforms and underlined a successful implementation process of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP).
A NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) meeting was conducted at the level of Foreign Ministers for the first time during the 2016 NATO Warsaw Summit. According to the Joint Statement and the Summit Declaration, Georgia's relationship with the Alliance contains all practical tools to prepare for eventual membership. The Allies encouraged Georgia to continue the effective implementation of all existing mechanisms to come closer to the Alliance. Moreover, additional practical measures were taken for Georgia at the NATO Summit in Warsaw.
Main Cooperation Mechanisms
The NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC)
Established in September 2008, the NATO-Georgia Commission (NGC) represents a format for both political consultations and practical cooperation to help Georgia advance on NATO membership path. The inaugural session of the NGC tool place during the visit of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) held on 15-16 September 2008. Regular meetings on different issues of cooperation at senior political-, as well as working level are held in the frames of the NGC.
At the NGC meeting held at the level of NATO Foreign Ministers on 2-3 December 2008 the Allies decided that the NGC would monitor the implementation of Bucharest Summit decision, provide a forum for political dialogue between NATO and Georgia at different levels, and be used as a coordination mechanism for practical cooperation.
The Annual National Programme (ANP)
On 2-3 December 2008 NATO Foreign Ministers agreed to replace the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with the Annual National Program (ANP). The latter represents a practical cooperation mechanism between NATO and Georgia and supports enhancing Georgia’s interoperability with the Alliance.
ANP consists of annual planned reforms and necessary activities in the form of commitments undertaken by the Georgian side in accordance with the priorities of the Government of Georgia and NATO recommendations. The Programme is approved at the national level in the first half of the year, whereas its implementation is assessed by NATO at the end of each year.
The Planning and Review Process (PARP)
The Planning and Review Process (PARP) represents a practical cooperation instrument aimed at supporting partner countries’ defence forces and defence capabilities. Since 1999 Georgia has been participating in the PARP which further assists the capability development of defence and security sector and increases interoperability with NATO. The PARP supports effective implementation of defense transformation in accordance with national-level priorities and recommendations provided by NATO. Under the PARP Georgia undertakes specific Partnership Goals (PG), whose assessment is conducted by NATO and approved by the Allies.
Military Committee + Georgia Work Plan (MC+GEO WP) and Implementation Programme (IP)
According to the North Atlantic Council (NAC) decision taken in August 2010, a new format of cooperation was established and a Military Committee with Georgia Work Plan (MC+Georgia WP) was adopted. The Work Plan defines key areas and objectives for military cooperation between NATO and the Georgian Defence Forces. The Work Plan is comprised of activities that help achieve the objectives set in the ANP, PARP and the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP).
NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center (JTEC)
The NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre (JTEC) was inaugurated on 27 August 2015. The Center provides training and evaluation to Georgian and international forces aimed at enhancing Georgia’s defense capabilities, increasing its interoperability with NATO, and contributing to strengthening regional and international security.
NATO Expert Team has been permanently residing in Georgia since 2015.
The JTEC hosted the first ever NATO-Georgia Exercise 2016 on 10-20 November 2016. The Exercise was conducted with the support of NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT), Allied Land Command (LANDCOM), and Joint Force Training Center (JFTC) as well as representatives from Allied and partner countries.
The Exercise hosted 250 participants from 11 Allied and 2 partner countries as well as representatives from NATO structures. The NATO-Georgia Exercise 2016 was the second international exercise held in the frames of SNGP.
Defence Institution Building School (DIBS)
The Defence Institution Building School (DIBS) was established under the SNGP on 28 June 2016. The School aims at increasing professional development capabilities of representatives from the wider defense and security sector, through various courses and training, workshops, discussions, and conferences on various issues.
DIBS Initiative is led by Germany. German and Slovak experts have been residing in Georgia since 2015. Moreover, Clingendael - the Netherlands Institute of International Relations supports DIBS’ capability development.
The School also cooperates with respective institutions of NATO Member States and partner nations in order to share best practices and experiences, and further assist its capacity development.
Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme (IPCP)
In 1996 Georgia elaborated an Individual Partnership Program (IPP) with NATO that entailed participation of Georgian military and civilian personnel in various NATO courses, seminars, conferences and workshops aimed at promoting their professional development. In 2013 the program was transformed into the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program (IPCP) and continues supporting Georgian personnel’s capability development through hundreds of annual activities.
Professional Development Program (PDP)
In 2009 NATO launched the Professional Development Programme (PDP) with the purpose of providing professional development opportunities to civil servants.
PDP is a NATO capacity‐building programme of direct assistance to Georgian MoD and other security institutions. A range of courses, exercises, workshops and internships are offered with the support of Allies and partner countries.
With PDP support, the Center for Strategy and Leadership succeeded by the Professional Development Center was established at the Ministry of Defense of Georgia in 2011. In 2016 the Defence Institution Building School (DIBS) was founded on the basis of the Centre under the SNGP.
Smart Defence Initiative
NATO launched the Smart Defence Initiative at the 2012 Chicago Summit, which aims at addressing contemporary security challenges and defence requirements in a more cost-efficient, effective and coherent manner. Various multinational projects are being implemented with the support of Allies and partner countries. Since 2012 Georgia has been participating in a number of multinational projects focused on various issues including gender, cybersecurity, and education.
Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP)
In 2009 Georgia began cooperation within the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) to further develop Georgian defence and military education sector in multiple directions. The Program entails assistance to educational and training institutions within the MoD through increasing the quality of educational programs, improving teaching methods and streamlining study processes. The program mainly focuses on improving capabilities of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Non-Commissioned Officers’ (NCO) Training Center through advisory assistance, various courses, mobile training team (MTT) visits, and seminars.
Building Integrity (BI) Initiative
Georgia participates in NATO’s BI Initiative and is engaged in various educational and training programs to increase transparency and reduce the risk of corruption within the defence sector. In 2013 the NATO expert team elaborated a Peer Review Report based on the analysis of a self-assessment questionnaire filled out by the Georgian side. The report describes in detail progress achieved in various directions by the Ministry of Defense of Georgia in this regard.
Cooperation with NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA)
Since 2002 Georgia has been actively cooperating with NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). As a result of this cooperation, four PfP Trust Fund projects - Georgia I, Georgia II, Georgia III and Georgia IV were successfully completed.
The last project - Georgia IV envisaged clearing of the military ammunition depot at Skra which exploded during the 2008 August War; and training of Georgian Defence Forces EOD unit according to level 3 and level 4 international demining standards. The Georgia IV project was accomplished in autumn 2017.
NATO’s Partnership Training and Education Center (PTEC) - Sachkhere Mountain Training School
The Sachkhere Mountain Training School was established on 14 August 2006. In 2010 the Center was granted the status of NATO’s Partnership Training and Education Center (PTEC) based on the North Atlantic Council (NAC) decision. Since 2011 the School has been conducting international basic and intermediate winter and Summer Mountain training courses for military personnel from Allied and partner countries.
Participation in NATO-led Internaitonal Missions
Georgia actively participates in NATO-led international missions. From 1999 to 2008 Georgian military units participated in the international mission in Kosovo - KFOR. Georgia also participates in anti-terrorism operation Operation Sea Guardian (former Operation Active Endeavor) in the Mediterranean Sea, which was launched in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States in 2001.
From 2004 to 2014 Georgia participated in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan as one of the largest contributing nations.
Since 2015, after the completion of the ISAF mission, Georgia continues participation in NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan.
NATO Response Force (NRF)
As a response to global security challenges, NATO’s Response Force (NRF) was established at the NATO Prague Summit in November 2002. It is made up of land, maritime and Special Operations Forces (SOF) components. The NRF is a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force.
Georgian Defence Forces one infantry company has been declared in NRF since 2015, and following successful completion of the evaluation and certification process, has been part of NRF 2016-2018. Georgia has also declared a second infantry company to participate in the NATO-s Operational Capability Concept Evaluation and Feedback (OCC E&F) Programme. By the end of 2018, this unit will complete all appropriate procedures and will be prepared to participate in the NRF from 2019.