The Security and Defense Working Group of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission met on July 20, 2016, in Washington, DC. The Working Group noted the historic events leading up to this meeting, including the signing of the Memorandum on Deepening the Defense and Security Partnership between the United States of America and Georgia on July 6 and the NATO Summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, which included the NATO-Georgia Commission’s Joint Statement welcoming Georgia’s significant progress in its preparations towards membership.
The Memorandum reaffirms and expands the United States and Georgia’s enduring and effective defense and security cooperation in areas such as defense capacity building, military and security cooperation, and information sharing. The sides underlined that a durable and strategic approach to defense and security cooperation increases the security of both countries and positively impacts regional stability and global security.
The United States reaffirmed support for Georgia’s aspirations to integrate into Euro-Atlantic institutions, as agreed at the NATO Bucharest Summit in 2008 and reiterated in Warsaw. Both sides confirmed their commitment to full implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which helps Georgia advance in its preparation for NATO membership, and welcomed the additional practical cooperation discussed in Warsaw to help Georgia in preparation for membership. The sides expressed commitment to strengthening Black Sea security cooperation and recognized Georgia’s role as a special partner in the region.
The United States expressed appreciation for Georgia’s significant contributions to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. Both sides honored the significant sacrifices of fallen and wounded Georgian and American soldiers and civilians and their families.
The United States stressed unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Both sides reiterated calls for Russia to withdraw its forces from Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions in accordance with the 2008 ceasefire agreement. The United States expressed strong concerns about the murder of a Georgian civilian in Khurcha and called once again on Abkhaz de facto authorities for a thorough and prompt investigation to hold accountable those responsible for this tragedy. The Georgian side stressed the importance of the immediate detention and prosecution of the suspect under Georgian law. Both sides emphasized the importance of the Gali and Ergneti Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms to address security incidents and the consequences of Russia’s “borderization” policy.
The parties discussed the breadth and depth of the U.S.-Georgia defense and security partnership and agreed that bilateral defense cooperation will help enhance the readiness and self-defense capabilities of the Georgian Armed Forces. Both sides committed to deepening cooperation in the areas of defense readiness, counterterrorism, border and maritime security, defense and security institutional reform, cybersecurity, counternarcotics, law enforcement, and crisis management to achieve the shared goal of increasing Georgia’s resilience and self-defense capabilities.
Both sides agreed that Georgia’s best security asset is its continued pursuit of democratic reforms. Both sides noted Georgia’s progress in this regard and the United States expressed its continued support for Georgia in this effort. The United States also emphasized the importance of apolitical law enforcement and security agencies to a strong democracy and in ensuring free, fair, and peaceful parliamentary elections in October 2016. Both sides underscored Georgia’s remarkable reform progress in its 25 years since regaining independence and looked forward to continuing the close partnership that has developed between the United States and Georgia.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs William Monahan and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter co-chaired the U.S. side, joined by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs James Walsh and representatives from across the U.S. government. First Deputy Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and Advisor to the Minister of Defense Shota Gvineria co-chaired the Georgian side, leading a broad interagency delegation. Georgian Minister of Defense Tinatin Khidasheli provided opening remarks and a strategic review of key security challenges; the Minister’s participation was a testament to the importance of the U.S.-Georgia strategic partnership.
The U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission remains the primary mechanism for organizing and prioritizing the broad and deepening cooperation between Georgia and the United States. The Commission includes four bilateral working groups on priority areas identified in the Charter on Strategic Partnership: democracy; defense and security; economic, trade, and energy; and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
Source: U.S. State Department