Georgia-US sign new defense agreement, marking ‘new phase’ in security cooperation

  • US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Georgian Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze met in Tbilisi earlier today. Photo: US embassy press office., 18 Oct 2021 - 16:44, Tbilisi,Georgia

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Georgian Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze signed a memorandum of understanding on the Georgia Defense and Deterrence Enhancement (GDDE) Initiative earlier today in Tbilisi. 

This initiative marks a new phase of our bilateral security cooperation, and it demonstrates the US’ commitment to supporting Georgia,” Austin said.

He said that GDDE will be the continuation of Georgia’s Defense Readiness Program ‘which has served the US’ efforts for more than three years to help Georgia boost its self-defense capabilities.’ 

Austin stated that the US values Georgia as its ‘firm, strategic partner,’ and that America's support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is irreversible. 

Austin stated that the Georgian Defense Readiness Program will be used as a basis for GDDE and that the US will continue to encourage institutional reforms in Georgia’s defense field, boost the country’s defense and deterrence capabilities and its compatibility with NATO standards. 

He said the new agreement points at the US’ ‘long-term policy to support Georgia’s defense and the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.’ 

Austin noted that for its part, the Georgian government should reinforce democracy and carry out ‘fundamental reforms’  which are necessary for the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration. 

Austin has also commented on the 3+3 format proposed by Turkey and Iran for the Caucasus with Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia and Georgia, and said that ‘first Russia must respect the 2008 ceasefire agreement with Georgia’ and withdraw its forces from Georgian territory. 

He stated that it is better for the south Caucasian countries to strengthen cooperation for regional security. 

Burchuladze said that Austin’s first official visit to Georgia ‘reaffirms a strong strategic partnership between the US and Georgia and serves the goal of further strengthening bilateral cooperation.’

We have had a very important meeting which concerned main threats and challenges for Georgia, in the region and in the world, and underlined that the US-Georgia strategic partnership has never been so firm,” Burchuladze said. 

He stated that the US-Georgia ‘close partnership’ supports Georgia’s stable development and maintaining of peace and security in the region. 

The GDDE is a critically important agreement, further upgrading the US-Georgia defence cooperation,” Burchuladze said. 

Burchuladze said that the prospects of modernisation of armament for the Georgian army and the ministry’s 10-year-development plan have also been discussed at the meeting, as well as Black Sea security.