NATO - Georgia Relations

Accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is one of the top foreign and security policy priorities of Georgia. Georgia attaches great importance to NATO's role in strengthening stability and security of the country. At the same time, the reforms carried out by the government of Georgia are in full compliance with the recommendations of the Alliance and significantly contribute to the development of democratic processes in the country. Moreover, Georgia aims at becoming not only the consumer of security but rather at playing an important role in strengthening common Euro-Atlantic security.

In 1992, soon after the declaration of independence, Georgia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) which five years later, in 1997 has been transformed into the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. The key reason for a change was an intention to build a security forum better suited for an enhanced and more operational partnership. Nowadays, Georgia is actively involved in this format providing partners and member states with an opportunity to discuss important issues across the wide variety of fields.

In 1994 Georgia joined NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) - the programme for practical bilateral cooperation between Euro-Atlantic partner countries and NATO. Georgia actively participates in regular joint military exercises and command staff trainings, as well as in international seminars and conferences on current security challenges held by the Alliance and partner countries within the PfP programme.

In 2002 at the NATO Summit in Prague, Georgia officially declared its Euro-Atlantic aspiration, thereby starting the NATO integration process of Georgia.

Since 2003, following the "Rose Revolution" in Georgia, NATO-Georgia relations became more intense and dynamic. On October 29, 2004 the Alliance launched Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with Georgia in order to assist the country to achieve NATO standards and successfully implement democratic reforms. Georgia was the first country ever to start the implementation of IPAP.

On September 21, 2006 at the Informal Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in New-York, the Alliance made a decision to start Intensified Dialogue on Membership Issues with Georgia. This decision vividly marked the qualitatively higher level in NATO-Georgia relations and was a logical step forward from partnership format towards membership candidate status of Georgia.

As a result of successful implementation of IPAP requirements and the progress achieved within the Intensified Dialogue, on April 3, 2008 at the Bucharest Summit, Allies made adecision that Georgia will become a member of NATO. The decision is a momentous political message on the way to Georgia's NATO membership.

One of the most important episodes in NATO-Georgia relations is a unanimous political support of the Alliance immediately after the Russian military aggression against Georgia in August 2008. On August 19, 2008 NATO Foreign Ministers at a special meeting unanimously condemned Russia's actions against Georgia. The decisions on establishment of NATO-Georgia Commission as well as on official visit of the North Atlantic Council to Georgia under the chairmanship of NATO Secretary General on September 15-16, 2008 have also been made at the meeting.

The first North Atlantic Council visit to Georgia was another step forward in NATO-Georgia relations. Within the frames of the NAC visit NATO - Georgia Commission held its first official meeting. On December 2-3, 2008 NATO Foreign Ministers gave NATO-Georgia Commission a central role in supervising the process set in hand at the Bucharest Summit in April 2008. Cooperation within the Commission provides Georgia and the Alliance with an opportunity to hold regular consultations on the wide variety of issues important to both sides.

At the same Ministerial, Allies made a decision to develop the Annual National Programme with Georgia. The Programme is a practical cooperation mechanism between NATO and Georgia aimed at assisting country to achieve the NATO standards. Document, presented to the Alliance annually, is based on allies' recommendations as well as on the priorities of the Georgian Government, and includes a detail action plan of activities for the year.

The Allied once again reiterated their strong commitment to Bucharest decision atStrasburg/Kehl Summit in April 2009 which is another clear demonstration of the irreversibility of Georgia's NATO integration process.

Another important aspect of NATO-Georgia relations and a successful example of practical cooperation is EAPC seminars and conferences on emerging security challenges held in Georgia every year. Namely, in 2010 and 2011 seminars on Energy Security and Protection of Energy Infrastructure and Emerging Security Challenges were held in Georgia. Representatives of NATO, Partner and Mediterranean Dialogue countries participated in the seminars.

At the Lisbon Summit on November 19-20, 2010 Allies reiterated their commitment to the decision made at Bucharest Summit once again underlining that Georgia will become a NATO member state. At the Summit NATO adopted the 2010 Strategic Concept Active Engagement, Modern Defense which clearly states that NATO-Georgia partnership will continue and develop based on the NATO decision made at the Bucharest Summit 2008.

On 15 April, 2011 NATO-Georgia Commission at the level of Foreign Ministers adopted the firstjoint statement. The statement expresses allies' support to Georgia's Euro-Atlantic integration, its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Foreign Ministers emphasized success achieved by Georgia in implementing comprehensive reforms and expressed special gratitude to Georgia for its contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation in Afghanistan.

Another vivid demonstration of NATO-Georgia special relations is the NAC's second visit to Georgia on November 9-10, 2011 chaired by the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. NATO-Georgia Commission held with the Prime-Minister of Georgia, adopted the second joint statement, wherein the sides welcomed the progress achieved in conducting reforms, expressed commitment to the decision made at Bucharest Summit, and support to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Within the frames of the visit the North Atlantic Council members had an official meeting with the President of Georgia.

On December 7, 2011 NATO Foreign Ministers met at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and adopted the final statement on NATO's relations with partner countries and other important issues.. Most importantly, Allies referred to Georgia as to an aspirant partner country along with Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

At the NATO Chicago Summit held on May 20-21, 2012 Georgia participated in ISAF, core partners' and aspirant countries' meetings. Participation in such formats further strengthens Georgia's status of a NATO membership aspirant country.

The declaration adopted at the Summit once again reiterated commitment to the Bucharest Summit decision that Georgia will become a member of NATO and emphasized the central role of NATO-Georgia Commission and Annual National Programme in supervising the process set in hand at the Bucharest Summit. Allies also underlined the progress achieved by Georgia on the way to NATO integration after the Bucharest Summit and expressed appreciation for Georgia's significant contribution to common Euro-Atlantic security.

Georgia's participation in NATO-led Operations

Georgia as a significant contributor to Euro-Atlantic security is actively involved in NATO-led operations. In 1999-2008 the Georgian military forces were deployed in Kosovo. Georgia also participates in anti-terrorist operation Active Endeavour launched on the basis of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty immediately, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Georgia's contribution to NATO-led ISAF operation in Afghanistan is of significant importance. Nowadays, Georgia is the second largest troop contributor to Afghanistan among the non-NATO states.