The NATO Parliamentary Assembly held a special Programme on Defence Institution Building for senior government officials and legislators from Georgia from 27 June until 1 July. The programme was organised in close cooperation with NATO and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces
The objectives of the programme were to promote better cooperation between the legislative and executive branches of government, to strengthen democratic oversight mechanisms of security and defence and to provide detailed training on developing the strategic defence review as well as the defence planning, programming and budgeting process.
The participants included representatives of the various constituencies – civil, military and parliamentary – involved in the development and implementation of Georgia's defence and security policy, particularly planning and budgeting.
Following opening presentations by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Secretary General, Simon Lunn, and Deputy Secretary General, David Hobbs, participants heard from NATO's Special Representative for the Caucasus, Robert Simmons. Participants were then briefed on the relationship between national and Alliance force planning for members and partners by NATO force planning officer, Bruce Bach.
The participants received a unique opportunity to talk directly to NATO officials about Georgia’s Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), Partnership Action Plan on Defence Institution Building (PAP DIB) and Planning and Review Process (PARP). They learned that NATO’s assessment of Georgia was positive on economic reform, democratic development and political reforms but was less positive on defence reform, particularly on defence planning and procurement. There was a clear message that Georgia should take serious steps on defence reform and improve coordination among the different entities involved in the process.
The group had the opportunity to exchange views with the representatives from new NATO nations: the Bulgarian Ambassador to NATO, Lubomir Ivanov and the Latvian Ambassador to NATO, Aivis Ronis who highlighted lessons learned after their countries’ one-year membership in NATO. The Participants were then briefed on: the Latvian and Romanian experiences in developing a Strategic Defence Review; the British approach to Defence Planning, Programming, and Budgeting; and the Belgian experience on the role of parliament in defence and security policy which underlined the importance of democratic oversight mechanisms and helped the participants to better understand the process of interaction between the legislative and executive branches of government.
The highlight of the programme was an interactive exercise in which the participants played the roles of the executive and the legislative branches of government. The executive group had to prepare and present the conclusions of a Strategic Defence Review outlining the broad options for the future size, structure, and composition of Georgia’s armed forces through 2015. The Legislative group had to question, comment and critique the executive presentation.
This interactive exercise helped to build awareness and understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of the executive and legislature. It also helped the participants to better understand how to prepare and conduct a parliamentary hearing.
The Programme was highly praised by all participants. As one participant wrote, “The Programme showed me the process and a way to go; it showed me how we do things on the one hand and how things should be done if there was a better interaction between the governmental bodies and the parliament.”
NATO Parliamentary Assembly