NATO-Georgia Cooperation

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 enhancingNATo-Georgia relations and the country’s preparations for NATO membership.

 

The Alliance undertook a decision to offer an Intensified Dialogue to Georgia at the informal 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 (reflected in the Bucharest Summit Declaration) 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 on 15 September 2008.

 

On 2-3 December 2008 NATO Foreign Ministers initiated an Annual National Program (ANP) for Georgia.

 

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 North Macedonia.

 

At the 2014 NATO Wales Summit, Allies recognized Georgia as one of the most interoperable partners and granted the “Enhanced Opportunities Partners” (EOP) status together with four other nations (Australia, Jordan, Finland, and Sweden)[1]. The abovementioned format provides 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 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).

 

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.

 

During 2018 NATO Brussels Summit Georgia participated for the first time in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) with Georgia and Ukraine at the level of Heads of State and Government. Together with other public documents the NATO-Georgia Commission Declaration was adopted at the Brussels Summit.

 

The NATO- Georgia Commission Declaration states that Georgia is one of the Alliance’s closest operational partners. Moreover, the Declaration underlines that Georgia’s participation in NATO and EU-led operations demonstrates Georgia’s capability to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security which represents one of the significant preconditions for NATO membership. It is noteworthy that the Alliance stands ready to further deepen its dialogue with Georgia and practical cooperation in order to ensure Black Sea security.

 

Moreover, the Brussels Summit Declaration acknowledges Alliance’s political support for Georgia in the context of NATO’s Open Door Policy. The Allies reiterated the decision made at the Bucharest Summit that Georgia will become a member of the Alliance and that Georgia’s relationship with the Alliance contains all the practical tools to prepare for eventual membership.

 

Georgia continues to deepen its cooperation with the Alliance as reflected in the eventful agenda and intensified practical cooperation. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and NATO Military Committee paid their visits to Georgia during the second triennial NATO-Georgia Exercise in March 2019. Moreover, Georgia hosted the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in October 2019 in Batumi which is one of the clear demonstrations of NATO’s support for Georgia.

 

NATO Leaders Meeting in London in December 2019 reiterated that Allies are committed to NATO’s Open Door policy which strengthens the Alliance and has brought security to millions of Europeans. Moreover, the decision was made at the London meeting regarding the launch of NATO 2030 reflection process led by the Secretary General in order to further strengthen NATO’s political dimension.

 

At NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in April 2020 a decision was made to deepen practical cooperation with Georgia and Ukraine even further, including through exercises in the Black Sea region, joint work to counter hybrid warfare and etc.

 

On 25 November 2020 the Reflection Group appointed by the NATO Secretary General presented their report NATO 2030: United for a New Era to the Alliance. One of the recommendations of the Group includes reinvigoration of NATO’s Open Door Policy and strengthening NATO’s partnership with Georgia.

 

Virtual Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs was held on 1-2 December 2020 in Brussels. Allies and Georgia approved the updated Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (Refreshed SNGP) which is designed to further support Georgia’s defence and security capabilities, strengthen resilience, enhance interoperability with NATO and preparations for membership.

 

NATO Brussels Summit 2021 Communiqué text reiterates the 2008 Bucharest Summit decision, while the Allied Heads of State and Government unequivocally and directly state their support to Georgia’s sovereign right to choose its foreign policy priorities and no third party can interfere in this process. It is noteworthy that Allies positively assess the progress made by aspirant Georgia in the implementation of reforms in different areas and emphasize Georgia's ability to make a significant contribution to the common Euro-Atlantic security.

 

Main Cooperation Mechanisms

 

Ministry of Defence of Georgia continues successful implementation of all existing NATO-Georgia cooperation mechanisms and formats which support effective implementation of defence reforms, strengthen the country’s defence capabilities and enhance interoperability with NATO. This itself supports Georgia’s NATO membership preparation process. 

 

Moreover, Georgia as an aspirant country successfully implements international commitments thoroughly undertaken in the frames of NATO cooperation which is positively reflected in assessments produced by NATO’s relevant structures and are regularly praised and appreciated by NATO and partner nations high level representatives.

 

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 took place during the visit of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) 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 reporting year. 

 

 

The Planning and Review Process (PARP)

 

The Planning and Review Process (PARP) represents a practical cooperation instrument aimed at enhancing NATO interoperability of partner countries’ defence capabilities. Georgia has been participating in the PARP since 1999 which further assists the capability development of defence and security sector and increases interoperability with NATO. In the frames of PARP Georgia and NATO jointly define Partnership Goals (PGs) and the implementation progress is assessed by the representatives of NATO International Staff (IS).  PARP process is a two-year cycle, the Partnership Goals (PGs) are updated once in every two years accordingly, and the assessment report of PGs is presented to the NATO side.

 

 

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 Programmes

 

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 the Professional Development Program (PDP) was launched under the auspices of NATO. From the outset the Program aimed at professional development of representatives from Ministry of Defence and security sector through providing courses, training, workshops and internships with support of partner countries. The Program was implemented in phases in defense and security sector and gradually extended to the wider security sector as well.

 

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 Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP).

 

In 2020 PDP went through transformation and a new management structure for the Program was developed. At the national level the High-level Group was established as well as the Local Management Board which coordinate the Program’s activities together with the Program’s coordinators and in close cooperation with representatives from relevant government agencies.

 

During the transitional period 2020-2021 the Program is providing support for specific activities of the Cyber Security Bureau (CSB) and the Defence Institution Building School (DIBS) of the MoD. 

 

 

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 support of Allies and partner countries. Since 2012 Georgia has been participating in a number of multinational projects focused on various issues including gender, cyber security, and education.

 

The Cyber Security Bureau (CSB) is engaged in two projects of the Smart Defence Initiative. In January 2020 the Bureau gained full access to NATO’s Malware Information Sharing Platform (MISP) and became a full member of MN MISP platform.

 

Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP)

 

In 2009 Georgia began cooperation with the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) to further develop Georgia’s defence and military education sector in multiple directions. The Program is designed to provide assistance to educational and training institutions within the MoD through increasing the quality of educational programs, improving teaching methods, and streamlining study processes in line with international standards.

 

The program mainly focuses on improving capabilities of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Non-Commissioned Officers’ (NCO) Training Center, as well as physical training of Georgian instructors through utilizing NATO Cross-Fit methods, experience sharing, various training and courses, as well as Mobile Training Team (MTT) visits.

 

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 the frames of the Initiative the NATO expert team elaborated a Peer Review Report in 2013 based on the analysis of a self-assessment questionnaire filled out by the Georgian side. The report describes in detail the progress achieved in various directions by the Ministry of Defense of Georgia in this regard. According to the recommendations of NATO experts, experts from the Ministry of Defence of Georgia successfully share their experience and the best practices with partner countries. 

 

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 projects envisaged demilitarization and destruction of ammunition, clearing of former military ammunition depot at Skra which exploded during the 2008 August War, and training and equipping of Georgian Defence Forces EOD unit according to level 3 and level 4 international demining standards.

 

 

NATO’s Partnership Training and Education Center (PTEC) - Sachkhere Mountain Training School

 

Besik Kutateladze Sachkhere Mountain Training School was established in 2006. In 2010 the Center was granted the status of NATO Partnership for Peace Training and Education Center that later on was transformed to NATO’s Partnership Training and Education Center (PTEC).

 

The training courses at the Sachkhere Mountain Training School are led by experienced Georgian instructors who undertook mountain training (six phases) for three years in cooperation with the French side. Georgian instructors undergo training at the School Military De Haute Montagne (EMHM) in France.

 

The Sachkhere Mountain Training School offers basic and intermediate winter and summer mountain training courses, and senior mountain leader course to military personnel from Allied and partner countries.

 

 

Participation in the NATO Centers of Excellence (COE)

 

Georgia as an aspirant country and future member of the Alliance is actively cooperating with the NATO Centers of Excellence (COEs) in different fields which aims at supporting the development of Georgia’s capabilities as well the Alliance’s efforts in different directions.

 

In light of current security environment and Georgia’s defence priorities, Georgia is actively cooperating with: Military Engineering (MILENG) COE located in Ingolstadt, Germany; Cooperative Cyber Defence (CCD) COE located in Tallinn, Estonia; Strategic Communications (StratCom) COE located in Riga, Latvia, and Energy Security (ENSEC) COE located in Vilnius, Lithuania.

 

[1] Ukraine was recognized as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner in June 2020.