08TBILISI164, GEORGIA’S ANNUAL NATO ASSESSMENT: ON BALANCE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI164 2008-02-01 14:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7344
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0164/01 0321441
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011441Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8780
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000164 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR DAS BRYZA, EUR/CARC, AND EUR/RPM 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/01/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA'S ANNUAL NATO ASSESSMENT:  ON BALANCE 
POSITIVE 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  On January 31, NATO International Staff 
(IS) briefed NATO Ambassadors and Defense Attaches in Tbilisi 
on the highlights of their latest assessment of Georgia's 
International Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), the draft of 
which would be circulated to NATO Allies in Brussels by 
mid-February.  Delegation Head Robert Weaver characterized 
the assessment as overall positive.  He and others said that 
the Georgian preparation and planning for this assessment was 
the best the team had ever seen.  They also noted that 
Georgians, for the first time, were "getting it" in that they 
are no longer claiming that everything is perfect.  Despite a 
tough political year, they noted substantial reform progress. 
 On political issues, NATO IS reported good progress 
including the passage of a law on ex parte communications, 
less use of pre-trial detention, and the opening of the High 
School of Justice.  Still, they emphasized the need for more 
progress on judicial independence.  They also highlighted the 
importance of staying on track toward peaceful resolution of 
the conflicts, better engagement with civil society and 
improving the elections process before parliamentary 
elections in May.  On defense issues, NATO IS commended 
Georgia's Strategic Defense Review (SDR) and the consultative 
way in which it was developed and noted areas of improvement 
including better use of the defense acquisitions process, 
improving the functioning of the joint staff and fixing the 
military personnel system.  He said Georgia needs to make 
some key decisions soon including on a Navy and Air Force. 
End summary. 
 
----------------------- 
OVERALL POSITIVE REPORT 
----------------------- 
 
2. (C) On January 31, NATO International Staff (IS) members 
in Tbilisi briefed NATO Ambassadors and Defense Attaches on 
the highlights of their latest assessment, the draft of which 
would be circulated to NATO Allies in Brussels by 
mid-February.  NATO IS Delegation Head Robert Weaver 
characterized the assessment as overall positive.  He and 
others said that the Georgian preparation and planning for 
this assessment -- the fifth -- was the best the team had 
ever seen.  He said the Georgians had taken seriously the 
issues raised by the IPAP assessment last year and had 
responded to each issue "point by point."  Also, despite a 
tough political year, there had been substantial reform 
progress.  He noted that Georgia's aspirations with regard to 
a Membership Action Plan remained "extremely high" and 
emphasized that the NATO IS team said that such a decision 
was a political one that was up to the Allies. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
JUDICIAL REFORM PROGRESS YET MORE WORK TO DO 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) On political issues, NATO IS James Mackey reiterated 
that Georgia was better prepared than ever.  For the first 
time, he said, Georgians were "getting it," and had began the 
hard process of identifying shortcomings rather than simply 
claiming that everything is perfect.  He noted positively 
that the Georgians had taken on the areas where the last 
assessment identified concerns and offered detailed and 
substantive responses.  Citing judicial reform, he pointed to 
progress in the passage of a law banning ex parte 
communications, the less frequent use of pre-trial detention, 
and the opening of the High School of Justice.  He emphasized 
the need for more progress on judicial independence.  Weaver 
also raised the importance of continued work toward the 
peaceful resolution of conflicts and welcomed Georgia's 
change of tone with Russia and the absence of anti-Russian 
rhetoric. 
 
4. (C) Turning to more controversial issues, Mackey said that 
he approached the events of November 7 and the disputes 
surrounding the elections by promoting "lessons learned" and 
an adoption of "best practices."  Mackey said he would draw 
heavily from the language in the international monitoring 
mission in his reference to the elections.  He offered that 
even civil society seemed to have difficulty in determining 
what was a violation of the electoral code and assessed that 
clarifying the electoral code is a key needed improvement 
before the parliamentary elections.  He said he also raised 
the issue of the arrest last fall of former Defense Minister 
Okruashvili.  He said he advised the Georgian government to 
use the case to prevent high level corruption in future, such 
as by improving Parliamentary oversight over defense 
expenditures.  Weaver welcomed President Saakashvili's 
creation of an advisory council to monitor high level 
corruption. 
 
TBILISI 00000164  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
GOOD SDR ALTHOUGH SOME MORE WORK NEEDED ON DEFENSE REFORM 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
5. (C) On defense issues, NATO IS staff member Frank Boland 
said that there were a number of areas in which the Georgians 
showed c
lear signs of progress, including the Georgian 
commitment to military operations  which he termed impressive 
for a country of Georgia's size.  He also commended Georgia's 
SDR and the consultative way in which it was developed. 
Boland highlighted other areas of improvement including in 
military education, nuclear/biological defense capabilities, 
and the decision to end conscription and move to a fully 
professional force.  He noted areas of needed improvement 
including better use of the defense acquisition process, 
improving the functioning of the joint staff, and fixing the 
personnel and resource management systems. 
 
6. (C) Boland touched upon a couple of outstanding questions 
which he said the Georgians needed to answer in the near 
future.  One was how or whether to consolidate logistics and 
maintenance functions for MOD and MOIA helicopters.  He had 
been told this issue is with the National Security Council 
and hoped there would be a final answer soon.  A second was 
the future shape of the Georgian Navy - whether it would be 
along the lines of a military force or a coast guard.  He 
said NATO IS has advised that it should be a coast guard. 
The third and final issue is the future of the air force. 
Boland stressed the importance of Georgia being able to make 
an offer of helicopters to Afghanistan as NATO is considering 
leasing helicopters from other countries in order to try to 
fill current requirements. 
 
7. (C) NATO IS Bruce Bach added a concern on the issue of 
training.  He said that many Georgians are trained by NATO 
governments only to return to Georgia but not to the Georgian 
military, which he believed was a waste of a training slot 
and Allied assistance.  He said that he asked for a list of 
all the military personnel trained abroad over the last four 
years and where they are now -- almost 20%, he said, were no 
longer in the military.  He said NATO IS had criticized 
Georgia on this point three or four years ago and suggested 
that Allied governments press the Georgian Government on how 
it will use military personnel once they return from training 
abroad. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
NATO WANTS PREDICTABILITY AND "NO SURPRISES" 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
8. (C) The team concluded that what the Allies are looking 
for in Georgia is predictability in terms of the kind of 
country and military force they would get in making the 
political decision on membership.  In essence, they said, 
Allies want "no surprises."  They also made clear Georgia's 
right to call upon the 26 plus 1 format to present its views 
directly to Allies in Brussels. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
9. (C) Although Weaver said that the NATO Secretary General's 
crucial statement following the November 7 events reflected 
surprise that Georgia did not inform the Allies of its 
actions, the NATO IS report was on balance positive and 
forward looking.  Privately, James Mackey expressed concern 
that some of the allies might try to insert a lot of negative 
into the report by focusing on the November 7 events in an 
effort to influence discussions on whether Georgia is ready 
for a MAP.  In all his discussions with the Georgians and in 
the report, he hoped to focus forward, on both the progress 
and areas of continued needed work.  Also privately, DCM 
asked Boland how NATO IS sees Georgia compared with Ukraine. 
Boland said the IS will know better after the next IPAP 
Review of Ukraine in 3 weeks.  But at this point, he saw 
Georgia as a big step ahead.  He welcomed Ukraine,s renewed 
focus on IPAP but said there are significant fundamental 
problems such as lack of realism on defense budgeting, 
insufficient preparation and operational planning. 
TEFFT

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