US report: Georgia is largely capable of detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorism incidents, 20 Jul 2017 - 11:43, Tbilisi,Georgia

The United States (US) Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism has published country reports on terrorism for 2016.

The chapter about Georgia says that the country is a longstanding member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. It says that Georgia continued its strong engagement with the US across a range of counterterrorism-related issues and remained a solid US global security partner.

The report mentioned that in August, Tbilisi City Court convicted ISIS fighter Davit Borchashvili to 12 years in prison for being a member of a terrorist organisation and participating in terrorist activities.

It adds that Georgian authorities continued to work toward greater information sharing with US and regional counterparts on security issues.

Georgia also made progress implementing a domestic program to counter violent extremism,” the report said.

It added that press reports suggested that, as of late last year, approximately 50 to 100 Georgian nationals were foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq.

"Given Georgia’s geographic location, Islamist extremists have transited through the country between the Russian Federation’s North Caucasus, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey”, the report said.

The report discussed Georgia’s legislation, law enforcement, and border security too. It said that Georgia continued to enhance its counterterrorism legislation in 2016 and now has a substantial legal framework for prosecuting terrorism-related offenses.

"The State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) has the lead in handling terrorism-related incidents, and is generally well-equipped and well trained. Overall, the government is largely capable of detecting, deterring, and responding to terrorism incidents”, the report said.

It added that Georgia has improved its overall border security, in part due to its goal of attaining visa-free travel to the European Union. Nonetheless, Georgia’s lack of control over the Russian-occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, its lack of diplomatic relations with Russia, and the country’s harsh terrain limited its ability to secure its borders, the report added.

According to the report, in 2016, Georgia’s continued efforts to prevent radicalisation to violence in vulnerable populations remained in the nascent stage.

"The government continued to direct countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts towards youth in the Pankisi Gorge”, the report said.

It added that the Ministry of Education, for example, worked with local schools in Pankisi to improve Georgian language instruction, civic education, and science classes. The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs has improved school gym facilities and set up after-school programs. This past year the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs also introduced national comprehensive youth programs that are partly aimed at CVE.

"Georgia remains the largest troop contributor per capita, the largest non-NATO contributor, and the fourth-largest troop overall contributor, after only the United States, Germany, and Italy, to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission (RSM) in Afghanistan, with more than 870 troops deployed,” the report said.