The Security and Defense Working Group of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission met on December 6, 2019, in Washington, DC. Both sides recognized the significant advancements in U.S.-Georgia security and defense cooperation. On November 21, 2019, the United States and Georgia signed a new three-year U.S.-Georgia Security Cooperation Framework that reaffirmed the importance of the U.S.-Georgia strategic relationship and prioritized bilateral security cooperation focused on Georgian defense readiness and interoperability. The United States and Georgia have continued to enhance Georgia’s ability to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity through the Georgia Defense Readiness Program, development of the Combat Training Center, and several other bilateral security cooperation programs. The United States expressed appreciation and deep respect for Georgia’s significant contribution to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, where Georgia is the top per capita and largest non-NATO contributor to the mission, and recognized the enduring bond between U.S. and Georgian militaries built by shared service.
The United States reiterated support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration and the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit decision, reaffirmed at all subsequent summits, that Georgia will become a member of NATO, and reiterated that Georgia’s relationship with the Alliance contains all practical tools to prepare for eventual membership. The United States and Georgia underscored the important role that continued democratic, judicial, and electoral reforms play in NATO’s community of values and in strengthening Georgia’s resilience and deterrence capabilities. Both sides applauded increased NATO-Georgia cooperation. In March 2019, 21 Allies and three partners participated in the successful NATO-Georgia exercise. In 2019, both the North Atlantic Council and NATO’s Military Committee visited Georgia. Both sides emphasized deepening NATO-Georgia cooperation on Black Sea security as decided at the 2018 NATO Brussels Summit and the Washington NATO Foreign Ministerial in April 2019. Both sides welcomed the joint decision by NATO and Georgia to refresh the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which advances Georgia’s preparations for NATO membership. Parties agreed that a focus on practical NATO-Georgia cooperation will benefit both Georgia and the Alliance.
The United States condemned the Russian occupation of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions and stressed the United States’ unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Georgia provided an update on ongoing violations of its territorial integrity, including attempted expansion of the occupied area and building of “posts” on territory controlled by the Georgian Government, erection of barbed wire fences and artificial barriers along the administrative boundary line, and continuous closure of “crossing points” with grave humanitarian consequences for conflict-affected people along the administrative boundary line and in the occupied territories. The sides paid special attention to the detention in occupied Georgian territory of Doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili by the authorities in control. The Georgian side presented the “Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List” as an important part of preventing further ethnically driven violence and human rights abuses in the occupied territories.
Both sides remain committed to a peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict. The United States and Georgia again urge Russia to fulfill all of its obligations under the August 12, 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, including withdrawing its forces to pre-war positions and providing free access for humanitarian assistance to the occupied territories, and to reverse the recognition of so-called independence of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
Georgia provided an update on institutionalizing parliamentary oversight of its defense and security sectors and improving its national security decision-making coordination through Georgia’s new National Security Council. The United States stressed the importance of operating national security and law enforcement agencies with deliberate strategic vision and effective civilian oversight.
The United States and Georgia expressed a commitment to strengthening Black Sea security cooperation, including through the multilateral Maritime Domain Awareness program and in line with NATO-Georgia cooperation in the Black Sea region. In this context, the parties noted the importance of Georgia’s Joint Maritime Operations Center (JMOC), as well as other initiatives. Both sides focused on increasing U.S.-Georgia cyber security cooperation, particularly in light of the October 28 cyberattack in Georgia. Georgia reported on the development of its new National Cybersecurity Strategy, and the United States expressed interest in engaging with Georgia through a whole-of-government approach to support Georgia’s cybersecurity efforts. The United States also exchanged views on extensive U.S.-Georgia cooperation on law enforcement issues, border security, and counterterrorism.