The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia hosted the Security and Defense Working Group meeting under the U.S. – Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission on April 23, 2015, in Tbilisi. The Georgian side was co-chaired by First Deputy Foreign Minister David Dondua and Deputy Minister of Defense Levan Girsiashvili, and the U.S. side by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Todd Chapman and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas.
The Security and Defense Working Group stressed continuing U.S. support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and joint non-recognition efforts. Both sides reiterated calls for Russia to remove its forces from Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions in accordance with the 2008 ceasefire agreement, and affirmed they do not recognize the legitimacy of any so-called “treaties” between the de facto authorities of Georgia’s occupied regions and the Russian Federation.
The parties also reiterated that Russia’s continuing occupation of Georgian territory threatens lasting security and stability in the region. The parties discussed a broad range of security challenges, including the threat posed by ISIL, and committed to deepening cooperation in the areas of border and maritime security, counterterrorism, law enforcement, and cybersecurity
The United States restated its continued support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, as agreed at the NATO Bucharest Summit. The sides discussed Georgia’s EU partnership agenda and goal of NATO membership, and both sides underscored the significance of effective implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which will serve to strengthen the country’s self-defense and NATO interoperability capabilities and help Georgia advance in its preparation for NATO membership.
The United States will provide a Deputy Core Team leader to the group overseeing implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia package. The United States expressed appreciation for Georgia’s significant contributions to the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and now the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan in which Georgia serves without caveats as the second-largest contributor after the United States. Both sides honored the sacrifices of the fallen and wounded Georgian and American soldiers and civilians and their families. The United States confirmed an additional $20 million in security assistance to Georgia through the European Reassurance Initiative. This is a testament to our strong bilateral partnership.
Both sides also discussed bilateral and NATO military exercises in Georgia, including the Noble Partner exercise, which is designed to improve interoperability of Georgian troops in the framework of the NATO Response Force (NRF). The United States commended the progress achieved in Georgia’s defense reform process, and expressed its continued support for Georgia’s efforts to consolidate democratic reforms and improve the rule of law as important components of national security. The parties agreed to continue cooperation on border and maritime security as part of active U.S. engagement in the region.
Both sides underscored the progress made in fulfilling President Obama’s pledge to enhance defense cooperation that advances Georgia’s military modernization, furthers its defense reforms, increases its NATO interoperability, and improves its self-defense capabilities.
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. For more information, please visit website.