I feel honored to visit Euro-Atlantic Resilience Centre and talk about Georgia"s Euro-Atlantic agenda in a current complex geopolitical environment, exacerbated by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine, the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament stated while visiting the Euro-Atlantic Resilience Centre in Romania.
“From the outset of Russia-Georgia war in 2008, we have tried to communicate our very clear message to the international community that the 2008 war should not be regarded as an isolated case but should be seen in the context of Russia’s revisionist policy. Indeed, Georgia withstood Russian aggression since early 1990s when Moscow waged first proxy wars and then conducted aggressive and violent policy with the use of hybrid means of warfare. However, at that time we did not receive a proper reaction. We were called “alarmists” by many in the West, despite Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea. And, then, we now witness the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Having experienced Russian aggression first-hand, Georgia abides by the approach of the West and stands in full solidarity with Ukraine. We firmly support Ukraine’s sovereignity and territorial integrity. We co-sponsored and supported all international legal and political efforts for Ukraine, and accepted several tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees, on top of our own 300,000 internally displaced persons from the Russian-occupied territories, providing them with shelter, wherewithal, and access to education, healthcare, and other social services. When it comes to direct military support, we are more careful as we are walking on a fine line between war and peace in our own country.
Russia continues its illegal borderization efforts, kidnappings of Georgian citizens, and the gradual occupation of Georgian territories. The human rights situation in these occupied regions is deteriorating. Despite Russia’s provocative actions, Georgia remains committed to pursuing a peaceful resolution of the conflict solely through political and diplomatic means, with the aim of bringing much-needed stability to the entire region
Considering current complex realities, now more than ever we need to support peace and stability in the Caucasus region where challenges persist including armed incidents in Karabakh, Russia’s dominant military presence, economic challenges, just a few to name. We believe that cooperation between freedom-loving nations of the region is key to solving regional security problems and ensuring stability and prosperity. However, the region does not provide grounds for comfort. Despite many stakeholder’s engagement, though most of them – toothless, there is still turmoil going on and there is no peace treaty between the two countries. Fortunately, recent yet another phase of escalation in Karabakh was not transformed into large-scale clashes. Future will show whether this is the end of decades-long conflict or not. In this complex environment, Georgia stands for restoration of peace, and relaunch of negotiations between the sides. Georgia has already taken steps towards facilitating communication between the neighbors – Armenia and Azerbaijan and will continue putting much efforts into promoting regional peace.
Future will show whether this is the end of decades-long conflict or not. In this complex environment, Georgia stands for restoration of peace, and relaunch of negotiations between the sides. Georgia has already taken steps towards facilitating communication between the neighbors – Armenia and Azerbaijan and will continue putting much efforts into promoting regional peace. We also welcome the process of rapprochement between Türkiye and Armenia and we remain hopeful that this process will result in full normalization of relations.
The so-called “Middle Corridor” is a shortest and cheapest transit route between Europe and Asia. Many may not know but the middle corridor is a historic Silk Road. Georgia has always been on this road. Recent deterioration of security environment made trade routes to reclaim their historic and natural place. Georgia is doing its best to enhance its role as a logistic center and hub for doing business in the region. To this end, Georgia is committed to participate actively in major strategic projects and initiatives to contribute to strengthening Europe’s energy independence. Strategically important Georgia-initiated flagship project - Black Sea Electricity Cable is a great example that will help the EU to diversity its energy resources.
It is critically important for the West to be more involved in the region in order to deal with the various threats and challenges we face. Therefore, Georgia sees EU and NATO membership as a guarantee for economic prosperity and security and this choice of the Georgian people is codified in the Constitution of Georgia. At the same time, as a reliable and responsible EU and NATO partner, Georgia has always been ready to contribute to European and Euro-Atlantic security despite the real and present danger of Russian reprisal for doing so.
Over the years, Georgia has made significant progress on the road to NATO membership and has been acting in many ways as a member of the Alliance.
Nevertheless, 15 years have passed since the historic decision of the 2008 Bucharest summit promising that Georgia and Ukraine will become members of NATO; and more than 20 years have passed since Georgia submitted its bid for Euro-Atlantic integration. During this period, with the help and support of the Allies, we have developed democratic institutions beyond NATO’s entry-level standards and Georgian armed forces have become fully interoperable with the Alliance. Therefore, it’s high time to have tangible progress in the political dimension of the integration process as well. Georgia shall be on the right side in the new security order that will be formed after the victory of Ukraine.
The ongoing turbulent period, which appears to be persisting, presents the ideal moment for the European Union to advance the objectives for which it was established: fostering sustainable regional peace, security, and prosperity.
The EU can revitalise its “soft power” by standing on the side of truth, morality and the values that the EU has long embodied. Under the Georgian Dream administration, Georgia signed the Association and Free Trade agreements and achieved a visa-free travel regime with the EU. Georgia’s successful democratic transformation in the last decade made the country clear frontrunner among the EU’s Eastern Neighborhood. Yet, when the real decision about Georgia was due last year, EU reneged, granting us the European perspective instead of the EU candidacy status. Since then, the Parliament of Georgia leads the process of implementation of 12 recommendations that include issues of depolarization, judicial and electoral reforms, gender equality and others. We expect that Georgia’s performance will be assessed accordingly and respective decisions will be made based on merit along with considering wider geopolitical implications. It is critical to eliminate negative differentiation of Georgia from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova any longer. Georgian people and the government expect that the EU candidate status will be granted to Georgia this year.
It is critical to eliminate negative differentiation of Georgia from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova any longer. Georgian people and the government expect that the EU candidate status will be granted to Georgia this year. We also expect that EU accession negotiations with Georgia will start together with Ukraine and the Republic Moldova. These steps will have the potential to provide people with a cause to rally behind and the reassurance that in these uncertain times a better future is on the horizon. This is a watershed moment for Georgia’s European future but equally for the credibility of EU’s enlargement policy as a geostrategic investment in peace, stability, security and economic growth in whole Europe.
Therefore, it’s high time to make strategic and forward-looking decisions that will firmly anchor Georgia – a future EU member state – to this common family of European democracies. Last but, certainly, not least, I would like to underline that Georgia and Romania enjoy a strong strategic partnership and we are committed to advance this cooperation further. We also count on support of our Romanian colleagues towards Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic cause. Our ties have withstood the test of time, and I am confident we share a common European future. I hope that the next decade will bring the much-dreamt EU and NATO umbrella above the Georgian sky”, - said Shalva Papuashvili.