From the Department of State: As Vice President Biden reaffirmed in Tbilisi, we continue to fully support Georgia’s NATO membership aspirations, and the right of all countries to choose their own alliances. Following the August conflict, Allies and Georgia agreed to launch the NATO-Georgia Commission and to have Georgia develop an Annual National Program to guide its reform efforts aimed at meeting NATO’s membership standards. Georgia has been actively engaged in these processes, submitting its first Annual National Program this past spring and participating in a series of Commission meetings with Allies. Georgia also hosted two NATO Partnership for Peace exercises in May, which drew broad international participation despite Russia’s last-minute efforts to have the exercises cancelled.

Our longstanding bilateral military relationship over the past year has been focused on defense reform and modernization, and we will continue down this road in the months ahead. This approach emphasizes doctrine, interoperability with NATO, English-language training, and preparing and equipping Georgian forces for participation in NATO operations, including future deployments to Afghanistan. Georgia will deploy an infantry company with French forces in Afghanistan later this year, and has pledged to deploy a battalion to support NATO efforts in Afghanistan in 2010. We are grateful for Georgia’s contributions to this critical mission, as well as its earlier contribution of 2000 troops in Iraq, and we believe these deployments help contribute to our common security goals and enhance Georgia’s readiness for NATO membership. (Excerpt of testimony of Philip H. Gordon, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee for Europe)