The Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) aims to strengthen Georgia’s ability to defend itself and advance in its preparations for NATO membership. Since its endorsement by NATO Heads of State and Government, relevant representatives have been working together to further Georgia’s defense capabilities, increase its interoperability with NATO, and support Georgia’s integration in the alliance.
This week, members of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) Core Team met with representatives of the National Crisis Management Center (Department) of the Office of National Security Council for discussions related to SNGP’s Crisis Management Initiative, which is led by Denmark.
Ambassador Degnan: Well, it’s a beautiful day to be here at the Regional Hub, which is a wonderful example of the great partnership between the Peace Corps and the local communities here along the Administrative Boundary Line. There’s a long history here between Peace Corps and the communities here trying to help youth, to support entrepreneurs, and just to improve the quality of life here for the people living along the ABL. This is a really exciting time because we know how much Georgians have missed our Peace Corps volunteers. We’ve missed them a lot too, and we’re looking forward to them coming back very soon, not just here in the Mtskheta area, but throughout Georgia. So, today is a day for us to celebrate that wonderful partnership between Peace Corps volunteers and all they’ve done with their great partners here in the regional hub.
Question about a letter from former GD MPs about judicial reform
Ambassador Degnan: Let me start by saying that for decades we have been working with Georgia on judicial reform, and there has been some very important progress over the course of the last decade in particular, where we’ve seen some good reform efforts. Everyone knows that there is more work to be done there. That has never been an issue of debate, so it’s a little puzzling why there is such resistance now to doing the work that everybody has been saying for a long time: it needs to continue to improve Georgia’s judiciary, to make sure that it truly is independent, impartial, autonomous, and responsive to the public. In this case, it is baffling to me why there is a question about the kind of consultation that has been ongoing, not just with the United States, but with other legal experts, domestic and international, for decades on judicial reform. That consultative process has resulted in improvements in Georgia’s judiciary. There is more to be done, and that includes commitments that the Georgia’s political leaders across the political spectrum have already agreed to multiple times over multiple years: that these kinds of improvements still need to be made.
There are recommendations from the Venice Commission and ODIHR. These are international legal experts who provide this kind of advice globally to countries like Georgia and other countries as to how to improve their judicial system. Many of them have been fulfilled. Many of them have not. These are the same steps. These are the same reforms that Georgia’s political leaders have agreed to do, both in the April 19th agreement, after the April 19th agreement, and before the April 19th agreement. Some of these are now being discussed in the judicial working groups that Parliament is hosting, and that the opposition and civil society have also contributed to this group. Obviously, the United States has also helped Georgia for many years in building its democratic institutions. That includes a diverse Parliament that represents the Georgian public.
I’m not sure what this group (the quartet) represents. I’m not sure who they represent, and I’m not sure how different they are from the ruling party that they say they left. What I can say is that the accusations that they most recently made against the United States and others are reckless conspiracy theories that have no basis. In fact, it’s very important to keep in mind that the United States works with all political parties across the political spectrum. We meet with Georgians from across the political spectrum, and we have for over 30 years. This is how we know how we can better support Georgia in trying to help Georgia develop its democratic institutions, develop its economy, ensure that it is more secure and stable as a democracy. This is the work that we’ve been doing with our Georgian partners for over 30 years and what we will continue to do in the coming years. I would say that any accusations that we are responsible in any way for the polarization that exists here is an attempt to shift the blame from those who know they are responsible to Western partners, who have done nothing but tried to help Georgia for 30 years along its European path. That is all we have done. I can say from the two and a half years that I’ve been here. Almost every single day, I have worked to try and bring Georgia’s political leaders together to try and bridge the deep polarization that existed long before I got here. And I think it’s important for Georgians to remember, to look back three years, four years, and remember where this depolarization came from. Things like Gavrilov’s night, things like broken political promises and anti-democratic actions. That’s where this depolarization came from, not from Western partners, who again, have only been trying to help Georgia bridge this deep polarization so that the Parliament and other institutions can focus on what’s really important to Georgians: jobs, high prices, good education, better public health. That’s what Parliament needs to be focusing on, and now, in particular, the 12 recommendations that the European Commission has put forward, including pledges that Georgia’s political leaders have made before, and said they were going to do. This is the time to get that done. This is the time to really focus, in an inclusive manner, together, to put aside differences and focus on getting that candidate status.
This Joint Maritime Operations Center Table Top Exercise (JMOC TTX) facilitated by DTRA’s International Counterproliferation Program, brought together Georgia’s maritime-oriented interagency on 8-11 August to collaboratively respond to port and coastal security scenarios.
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S Defense Threat Reduction Agency worked shoulder to shoulder at various locations along Georgia’s Black Sea Coast with Georgian security partners from the Maritime Transport Agency, the Coast Guard, the State Security Service, the Emergency Management Service and other organizations to address maritime security challenges.
The exercise builds on the JMOC TTX executed in September 2021 and will carry momentum into a JMOC TTX planned in spring 2023.
Participating agencies will be able to use lessons learned to develop enhanced response procedures and plans. Lessons will also potentially inform national-level maritime security strategy and legislation.
The JMOC TTX showcases another example of the U.S. government’s long-standing support to the government of Georgia.
The Counsellor of the EU Delegation to Georgia, Julien Crampes and the US Embassy political officers Lana Owens and Evan Elliott held a meeting with the Chair of the Political Group “Citizens”, Alexander Elisashvili; Chair of the PG “Lelo – Partnership for Georgia”, David Usupashvili; Chair of the Faction “United National Movement – Unified Opposition “Unity Makes Strength”, Khatia Dekanoidze, and MP Mikheil Daushvili to discuss the fulfillment of the 12-point recommendations set out by the EU.
“We overviewed the course of the fulfillment of 12 tasks the EU set out for Georgia for the reception of the so desired EU candidate status. We informed the guests about the intensive works in the working groups, the engagement of the opposition in this process and attached particular attention to the judicial reform. We revealed to the diplomats that we are the only party submitting the alternative vision other than the “Georgian Dream” about the judicial reform and stressed its importance”, - A. Elisashvili stated.
According to D. Usupashvili, “speaking about the EU candidate status, the officers of the Embassies expressed their commitment to aiding us in this direction. They asked about the de-polarization processes. I introduced the position of “Lelo” about our intention to actively participate in the Committee and plenary sessions but as to the preparatory stage, working groups etc. the positions shall be reconciled through the open process – at the Committee sittings, where we shall submit our positions”.
“We discussed the fulfillment of the EU recommendations. I introduced our position that we witness the active debates in the Committees and at the sessions about the fulfillment of these 12 recommendations. Besides, we dwelt on the general political situation in Georgia, especially the foreign political course”, - Kh. Dekanoidze commented to the media.
Today’s ruling, in the cases of Gvaramia, Iashvili, and Damenia, calls into question Georgia’s commitment to rule of law, and further demonstrates the fundamental importance of having an independent, impartial judiciary in Georgia. From its inception, this case has raised questions, including about the timing and the charges. The disturbing pattern of selective investigations and prosecutions targeting those in opposition to the current government undermines the public’s confidence in the police, prosecution, the courts, and the government itself. Particularly at this time, when Georgia has an unprecedented opportunity to advance its Euro-Atlantic integration, even the perception of politicized prosecution is detrimental. It is the United States’ firm position that a healthy democracy depends on ensuring judicial independence and protecting media freedom. That is why we have repeatedly called for the government to undertake comprehensive reforms to advance these fundamental democratic principles.
The assistance the Biden-Harris Administration has provided to Ukraine to date has made a significant difference on the battlefield, helping Ukrainians defend their country and win the battle for Kyiv. Now, as the war shifts to and intensifies in Ukraine’s eastern front, the Biden-Harris Administration is calling on Congress to provide additional resources to help ensure Ukraine’s democracy prevails over Putin’s aggression.
The supplemental resources Congress provided on a bipartisan basis in March have been critical to bolstering security in Eastern Europe, countering Russia’s malign activities in the region, and delivering critical humanitarian and economic assistance to Ukraine and neighboring partners. Almost all of the $3.5 billion in drawdown authority Congress provided in March has been exhausted as the Biden-Harris Administration has surged military assistance to Ukraine, which they have used to great effect. U.S. supplied weapons and ammunitions – including anti-tank and anti-air systems, helicopters, drones, grenade launchers, and more than 50 million rounds of ammunition – have been flowing into Ukraine daily, and the United States has been working with allies and partners to facilitate deliveries of additional weapons capabilities. The Defense Department has also used $1 billion in supplemental resources to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank and bolster NATO’s security posture to deter Russian aggression.
At the same time, the Administration is delivering humanitarian, economic, food, and other security assistance to Ukraine and the region. This includes roughly $1.7 billion to ensure continuity of Ukraine’s democratic operations and provide other macroeconomic assistance to the region. It also includes $650 million in military assistance to Ukraine, eastern flank countries, and other partners in the region, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in food, shelter, and other humanitarian aid to help Ukrainians who have been displaced by Russia’s war. Supplemental resources are also supporting efforts to hold Putin and his cronies accountable for their war of choice, helping the United States seize billions in assets and holdings.
Continued bipartisan support in Congress is vital to ensuring that the Ukrainian people have the resources they need to win this war, and this Administration is committed to working with lawmakers and our global allies and partners to keep aid flowing to Ukraine uninterrupted and to support those devastated by the food crisis that Putin’s war has exacerbated.
The $33 billion in security, economic, and humanitarian aid requested today will:
Help Ukraine Defend Itself Over the Long-Term
The Administration is requesting $20.4 billion in additional security and military assistance for Ukraine and for U.S. efforts to strengthen European security in cooperation with our NATO allies and other partners in the region. This includes $5 billion in additional drawdown authority, $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, and $4 billion for the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program. These resources will put urgently needed equipment into the hands of Ukraine’s military and police, as well as help NATO deter and defend against Russian aggression over the long-term. These additional resources will be used to provide Ukraine and Eastern flank allies with:
- Additional artillery, armored vehicles, anti-armor and anti-air capabilities flowing into Ukraine uninterrupted.
- Accelerated cyber capabilities and advanced air defense systems, improved production capabilities for munitions and strategic minerals, and increased intelligence support.
- Assistance to clear landmines, improvised explosive devices, and other explosive remnants of war and for the Government of Ukraine in securing and addressing threats related to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials.
- A stronger NATO security posture through support for U.S. troop deployments on NATO territory, including transportation of U.S. personnel and equipment, temporary duty, special pay, airlift, weapons system sustainment, and medical support.
Additional Economic Aid to Support Democracy in Ukraine
The Administration is calling on Congress to provide an additional $8.5 billion in economic assistance to help the Government of Ukraine respond to the immediate crisis and continue to provide basic citizen services. This includes funds to:
- Ensure Ukraine’s democratic government continues functioning; support food, energy, and health care services for the Ukrainian people; and assist the Ukrainian government in responding to operational challenges as businesses shutter and revenue collection plummets.
- Counter Russian disinformation and propaganda narratives, promote accountability for Russian human rights violation, and support activists, journalists, and independent media to defend freedom of expression.
- Support small- and medium- sized agrobusinesses during the fall harvest and for natural gas purchases by the Ukrainian state energy company in order to address critical food security, energy, and other emerging needs in Ukraine.
Address Humanitarian Needs due to Russia’s War
The $3 billion in additional humanitarian assistance will provide critical resources to address food security needs around the globe, provide wheat and other commodities to people in need, build countries’ resilience to global food supply and price shocks, and provide lifesaving aid to people displaced by or otherwise impacted by Putin’s War in Ukraine. This funding will mean:
- Direct food support, including wheat and flour, for individuals in developing countries impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as helping countries build more resilient agricultural systems.
- Medical supplies, high thermal blankets, emergency health kits, safe drinking water, shelter materials, and other lifesaving humanitarian assistance for Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s war.
- Job training, trauma-informed mental health services, and resources for local school districts to support Ukrainians arriving in the United States, including the new Uniting for Ukraine program.
Bolster Sanctions Enforcement
Resources will also bolster the Department of Justice’s KleptoCapture Task force efforts to pursue high value asset seizures from sanctioned individuals related to Russian actions in Ukraine. The Administration is also proposing legislation to streamline the process to recoup proceeds from seized and forfeited assets and use them to remediate the harm caused in Ukraine.
Addressing Economic Disruptions at Home and Around the World Due to Putin’s Aggression
An additional $500 million in domestic food production assistance will support the production of U.S. food crops that are experiencing a global shortage due to the war in Ukraine, for example, wheat and soybeans. Through higher loan rates and crop insurance incentives the request provides greater access to credit and lowers risk for farmers growing these food commodities, while lowering costs for American consumers.
Additional funding will also allow use of the Defense Production Act to expand domestic production of critical minerals and materials that have been disrupted by Putin’s war in Ukraine and that are necessary to make everything from defense systems to automobiles. This will help address economic disruptions and reduce price pressures at home and around the world.
In the 30 years since, Georgia and the United States have grown to become steadfast strategic partnersMonday, 27 December 2021 11:06
On December 25, 1991, in his holiday address to the people of the United States, President George H. W. Bush announced the United States' recognition of Georgian independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
In the 30 years since, Georgia and the United States have grown to become steadfast strategic partners, cooperating across a broad spectrum of issues in the name of a Georgia and Europe whole and free and at peace.
US Embassy in Georgia
Mission Tbilisi welcomed Colonel Chad Koenig, Commander, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), who led a team from Washington to evaluate WRAIR’s efforts in Georgia. WRAIR staff work closely with their Georgian counterparts at Lugar Center to monitor circulating and emerging infectious disease threats across Georgia and the region. The work this combined team does was integral in helping Georgia’s @NCDC respond to COVID-19.
The U.S. Embassy is disappointed that, once again, Parliament is moving forward with Supreme Court appointments before it has completed an independent assessment of the previous waves of judicial reform, as Parliament’s leaders agreed to do. We are also concerned that judicial appointments are proceeding without the participation of non-judge members of the High Council of Justice. While the High Council and Parliament have rushed through appointment of judges over the past year, there has been no action on non-judge appointments despite the positions being vacant for months. The people of Georgia, through the non-judge High Council members, are supposed to have a voice in the selection of these influential and important judges, who are being appointed to lifetime positions on the Supreme Court. The exclusion of independent voices from this process adds to the impression that Supreme Court judicial appointments are being made without meaningful transparency, accountability, or impartiality.
Before any further Supreme Court judges are appointed, we strongly encourage Parliament to prioritize the appointment of impartial, independent, non-judge members to the High Council of Justice, and complete an independent assessment of the previous waves of reform by Spring 2022. Important work has been done since independence to strengthen Georgia’s judicial branch, with the assistance of the United States and others. Georgia’s closest partners and supporters, as well as Georgia’s political leaders, are united in agreeing that judicial reform needs to continue. The goal now must be to build an impartial, transparent, merit-based judicial system that the people of Georgia can have full confidence in and that allows the full participation of the many qualified, ethical judges and lawyers who work with integrity to promote the rule of law.
US Embassy in Tbilisi
By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa / U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs
The port visit highlights an important relationship between NATO allies and vital Black Sea partner Georgia. Georgia has been a consistent and steadfast partner in promoting peace and stability in the region.
Previously, USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) conducted a port visit in Batumi in February 2021. Legend-class Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton (WMSL-753) similarly stopped in Batumi in May 2021, after completing interoperability exercises with the Georgian Coast Guard.
“Georgia plays a critical role in maintaining security and stability in the Black Sea and is a valuable NATO partner,” said Rear Adm. James Morley, Deputy Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO). “We look forward to further enhancing the relationship between NATO and our Georgian counterparts here in Batumi.”
U.S. Sixth Fleet (SIXTHFLT) and STRIKFORNATO personnel are embarked aboard Mount Whitney, operating as an integrated team. The interoperability between the commands, and their presence in the region, demonstrates the U.S. and NATO’s commitment to the Black Sea and to working with allies and partners to advance peace and prosperity in the region.
While in Batumi, the ships’ crews will experience Georgian culture and traditions, while taking in the country’s rich history and interacting with local citizens.
“This is my first ship and first deployment with the Navy and being able to visit Georgia is exciting,” said Cryptological Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Melissa Mitchell, a Sailor assigned to Mount Whitney. “I have always wanted to go to Georgia and experience the culture and cuisine.”
While steaming to Batumi, Mount Whitney and Porter showed the power of joint operations by participating in the U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) led Operation Castle Forge. Castle Forge provides a dynamic, partnership-focused training opportunity in the Black Sea and demonstrates the joint force’s combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence.
Additionally, both ships partook in bilateral ship maneuvering drills, communication testing, and simulated exercises with ships from the Bulgarian Navy and Turkish Navies and were escorted into Batumi by the Georgian Coast Guard. These maneuvers, executed in accordance with international law, highlight the professionalism and skillful seamanship of all nations involved.
USS Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the SIXTHFLT area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.
STRIKFORNATO, headquartered on Oeiras, Portugal, is Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) premier, rapidly deployable and flexible, maritime power projection Headquarters, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations, primarily through the integration of U.S. naval and amphibious forces, in order to provide assurance, deterrence, and collective defence for the Alliance.
SIXTHFLT headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
Vice Admiral Gene Black: Good Afternoon! I’m Vice Admiral Gene Black, Commander of the Sixth Fleet, Commander of Striking and Support Forces NATO. I’m absolutely thrilled to be here on behalf of the U.S. Navy, the Sixth Fleet, and my NATO team for Striking and Support Forces NATO. What an amazingly warm welcome here in Georgia. I’d like to introduce Captain Prochazka, the Captain of my flagship, USS Mount Whitney.
Captain Prochazka: Good Afternoon and thank you for this warm welcome, the amazing ceremony, and the warm reception to your country and this amazing city.
Captain Dan Prochazka: My name is Captain Dan Prochazka, I’m the commanding officer of USS Mount Whitney. The service members and civilian mariners from Mount Whitney are excited to explore the rich culture and history of Georgia to interact with the local civilians and to work with our military partners.
Question about Georgia’s role in the Black Sea region and relationship with the country
Vice Admiral Black: I think the importance of Georgia is clear when you consider that Secretary of Defense Austin recently visited I’m here representing the Sixth Fleet and the U.S Navy and NATO. You are a very important ally and partner in the Black Sea Region and we very much look forward to operating with you and visiting with you. And thank you, again for the wonderful, warm welcome.