Defense Minister Levan Izoria, Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Lincoln Mitchell, analyst. October 12, 2017. Photo: president.gov.ge
Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze addressed on October 12 the Georgia Defense and Security Conference, held in Batumi.
The three leaders spoke about the threat Georgia is facing in the form of the Russian occupation, Tbilisi’s firm intent to continue its European and Euro-Atlantic integration, and the need for the country to have strong defense capabilities, while keeping up its close security ties with foreign partners.
President Giorgi Margvelashvili stressed that “the threat of the world being divided into spheres of privileged interests is menacing not just for the neighbors of Russia, but globally,” calling for a “joint strategy” against the Russian actions, and lamenting that such consolidated approach has so far failed to materialize.
The Georgian President pointed out that Russia’s actions against Georgia did not start in 2008, but have been going on since the early days of the Georgian independence. “This trend continues today, when the Russian Federation is increasing its armaments in the sovereign territory of Georgia, also violating the rights of our citizens,” added Margvelashvili.
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili identified specific elements within the framework of the Russian occupation and aggressive policy, including: “absorption of the occupied territories into the Russian military, security, political, economic and social sphere;” continued militarization of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region; isolation of the occupied regions from the rest of Georgia; and ethnic discrimination of Georgians.
Kvirikashvili stressed, however, that despite these “provocative actions,” Georgia kept fully complying with the ceasefire agreement of August 12, which ended the Russo-Georgian War of 2008.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the new Georgia-EU strategic security dialogue process, which has been recently launched, following the Georgian request made in December 2016. Kvirikashvili said the dialogue concerns such issues as hybrid threats, radicalization and extremism, organized crime and energy security, while providing for “maximum compatibility with the European Union security and defense system and structures.”
Giorgi Kvirikashvili also stressed Georgia’s role as a transit country, situated on strategic routes between Asia and Europe.
Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze said in his remarks at the conference that “Georgia’s integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures has been set as an objective of constitutional importance” as a result of the recent constitutional reform in Georgia.
Kobakhidze promised that the Georgian Parliament would “continue to support the proper budgetary financing of the defense sphere,” adding that the country has been fulfilling the two percent of the GDP defense financing standard that has been asked for by the United States from NATO allies.
The Georgia Defense and Security Conference is an annual international event, dedicated to global and regional security issues. It has been held since 2005, with participation of high-level officials, as well as experts.