On 27 August 2015, at the opening ceremony of the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, discussed the state of Georgia-NATO relations. The Prime Minister underlined that it has been less than a year since the NATO summit in Wales when the decision to endorse the package of essential measures for Georgia was made. Mr Gharibashvili stated that the Government of Georgia had managed to start the implementation of those projects envisaged by the package in less than a year. According to the Prime Minister, the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre is the biggest component of the package and its establishment clearly marks the progress already achieved. The Prime Minister added that the aforementioned Centre would greatly enhance the defence capacity of Georgia.

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On 5 October 2014, the official text of the Wales Summit Declaration was publicised.

At the summit, NATO member states discussed the challenges before the Alliance against the backdrop of the Russian aggression in Ukraine. The declaration’s articles concerning Georgia are important in this context. Instead of a Membership Action Plan (MAP), Georgia received the Substantial Package. Article 93 of the declaration says that the Substantial Package for Georgia envisages defence capacity building, training, exercises and strengthened liaison with these measures aiming to increase Georgia's defence and interoperability capabilities with the Alliance. These in turn will help Georgia advance in its preparations towards membership in the Alliance. The Wales Summit Declaration also says that NATO leaders reaffirm the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Georgia will become a member of NATO. The then Minister of Defence of Georgia, Irakli Alasania, stated that the Substantial Package was to be followed by an "implementation plan."

On 28 October 2014, the first three points of the Substantial Package were made public. A few days before, on 22 October 2015, the former Minister of Defence, Irakli Alasania, declared

at a meeting with the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe (NATO), Philippe Breedlove, that NATO and Georgia had reached an agreement to open the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre in Georgia. Mr Alasania also added that Georgia-NATO joint military exercises and Georgia’s aspiration to become a member of NATO definitely enhanced regional security.

On 27 August 2015, the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre was opened at the Krtsanisi National Training Centre. The opening ceremony was attended by the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. The Secretary General declared that the Training Centre would be important not only for the Georgian military but for the training of allied powers as well. Mr Stoltenberg also emphasised that there were tangible results in the process of the implementation of the Substantial Package. He also added that the opening of the aforementioned Centre would result in a deepened cooperation between NATO and Georgia and increase NATO’s presence in Georgia.

The opening of the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre was a central component of the Substantial Package. FactCheck has written

about the implementation of the Substantial Package before.  Apart from the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre, the Substantial Package envisages the implementation of other elements as well. However, the Ministry of Defence of Georgia provided us only with unclassified information. The document concerning the implementation of projects envisaged by the NATO-Georgia Substantial Package is secret. Therefore, the Ministry of Defence was unable to give us more detailed content of the document.

According to public information obtained from the Ministry of Defence, the implementation of the Substantial Package, received at the Wales Summit, is a priority of national importance. The Georgian side is actively involved in consultations with NATO member states and representatives of the International Department of the International Military Department of the Alliance. Additionally, in order to ensure the efficient and vigorous implementation of the Substantial Package, NATO-Georgia Commission sittings and several high-level meetings have been organised. The NATO Core Team, which is composed of NATO experts, is in charge of coordinating and monitoring all of the initiatives envisaged by the Substantial Package. Further, NATO experts, sent to Georgia from NATO member states, will help their Georgian counterparts carry out and develop each of the Substantial Package’s initiatives.

Some NATO member states have already expressed their readiness to contribute to staffing the NATO Core Team. The majority of the NATO Core Team members are already known. Of note is that the Substantial Package envisages periodic NATO exercises on the territory of Georgia. For example, the first such exercise – Noble Partner – was held in May 2015.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia, are all actively involved in the implementation process of the Substantial Package. Additionally, the staff of the State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, together with the National Security Council and the State Security and Crisis Management Council, are also involved in the implementation of certain specific initiatives.

Conclusion

The process of the implementation of the Substantial Package, received at the NATO Wales Summit, is still in progress. Of note is that different organs, both government structures and international allies, are involved in this process. Of special importance is that the preparatory work to establish the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre has been vigorous and the Centre was opened in less than a year after the NATO Wales Summit. In this context, it is also important to mention the military training held in May 2015 with the participation of American and Georgian troops.

FactCheck concludes that the Prime Minister’s statement is TRUE.

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