Georgia and the New Dimensions of European Security
His Excellency Zurab Nogaideli
Prime Minister of the Republic of Georgia
Throughout Europe, a crucial debate is taking place about what security means in today’s world. Certainly security in its military sense is still at the heart of our considerations. And certainly, by strengthening and expanding NATO—by bringing willing and capable nations such as Georgia and Ukraine closer to the Alliance—we are moving ever nearer to our collective vision of lasting Euro-Atlantic security in the traditional meaning of this term.
But when we talk about security at this time, we are also talking about other profound concerns that are integral components of today’s security architecture. These are economic security, energy security, border security, and, perhaps most importantly, the security of our common values. But, now and in the future, we must move beyond simply agreeing on a definition of what security is in the 21stst century and develop a strategy for ensuring our security in all of its dimensions. This, perhaps, is the most important challenge we face in building a safe future for our children and grandchildren. It is also why, now more than ever, our partnership, our cooperation, our joint efforts are so vital.
It is a special pleasure for me to be addressing you in Berlin, one of the great symbols of freedom for all Europeans and for people around the world. It was in this majestic city just 17 years ago that the history of the 20thst century took its most promising turn. When the Berlin Wall collapsed over night, freedom came to millions of people who had been trapped by terror and impoverishment for generations.
Looking at the Reichstag today, I am reminded of a part of the Berlin Wall that is preserved there, together with the graffiti scribbled on it by Soviet soldiers. It is a deeply moving witness not only to history but also to the ongoing threats we all face together. Let me be clear about this last point: Freedom is still being threatened in parts of Europe, both in Belarus and other areas of Europe. When the Wall fell in November of 1989, it created echoes that still resonate today. Three years ago, that echo reached Tbilisi. The Rose Revolution—during which not a single life was lost, not a single building burned—swept away a deeply corrupt regime. I would like to talk for a few minutes about what has changed in Georgia since then. I would also like to explore what it means for Europe, especially as we consider together how a larger European neighborhood can contribute to our collective security.
GEORGIA’S BASIS IN DEMOCRACY
After more than two and a half years of reform and steady reconstruction, Georgia has established herself today as a sound, legitimate, and open democracy, nearly indistinguishable in many ways from her EU neighbors. While Georgia is certainly a country of the South Caucasus, and a Black Sea nation, we are also a nation with a deeply entrenched European identity. We are, after all, not only the home of wine, but also of numerous Greek mythological figures whose stories are part of our shared consciousness and help form our common European perspective and culture.
I believe our commonality of values and outlook is one of the principal reasons our reforms and institutions are functioning today and why we are so resolute about transforming our nation—and why we are so hopeful about the future. Indeed, this is why, when we vote in November 2006 in our first real local elections, no one will dispute the validity of the process or the legitimacy of the outcome.
Our basis in democratic values is also why our economy is one of the most open, and therefore fastest growing, in Europe; our GDP expanded at a rate of more than 9% in 2005. It is also why our civil society—the same one that helped power our revolution—thrives today.
GEORGIA’S ESSENTIAL ROLE IN EUROPEAN SECURITY
What does all of what I have just talked about have to do with security?
The answer to that question is clear to all who survey geopolitics—so many challenges of our time come from the East, and when we make the East more secure, we make all of us more secure. Thus we believe that Georgia is an essential component of the European security challenge and that when Georgia’s democracy succeeds—when the community of like-minded democracies expands and when stability is ensured through legitimacy, the rule of law, transparency, and accountability—we all will become more secure. It is difficult, in fact, to imagine a Europe in which Georgia is not a security ally, imposing order in areas that are so sensitive to long-term European security.
The bedrock of our integration into the Western security system remains our commitment to NATO. Our progress in boosting defense capabilities and preparedness is a story of hard work, strong and fruitful international partnerships, and tangible results. We continue to look forward to building that partnership and strengthening the institutional ties that make Georgia an ally and a contributor to European and Euro-Atlantic security by further integration with NATO—step by step and based on results and performance together with Ukraine.
As partners, we can overcome the scourges of our times: from terrorism and human trafficking to trading in illegal drugs to weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps, most importantly, we can also do more to address the specter of energy dependence and the lasting stability that secure energy provides. As the price of oil and gas skyrocket, it is worth pausing on this point.
Georgia is not only a democratic bridge to Central Asia and the Greater Middle East; it is also at the heart of the circulatory system that brings energy to Europe. In the short term, the energy security of Europe and of Georgia is contingent on diversifying the sources of supply. Georgia is already an energy transit nation, bringing more than one million barrels of oil a day to world markets and soon very substantial amounts of natural gas. Together with our regional partners, we are proposing a further expansion of this role so that markets will be more competitive and supplies more reliable and secure. In the competition for resources, we intend to be a secure option for diversified energy. This is good for those neighbors who produce energy and vital for the long-term security of European economies.
Just as we intend to be part of Europe’s diversified energy supply, we also intend to contribute to Europe’s security by cutting off illegal human trafficking, illegal trading in weapons, and smuggling. The exponential rise of globalized criminal activity targeting European markets is a major threat to Europe’s security. We must—and we can—do our part in averting this threat.
That is why my government is launching new proposals to develop enhanced and intense cooperation in this field with member-states and the institutions of the European Union. I believe there is a great deal we can accomplish. While Europe debates the scope and structure of its own future, we must continue the work of building European security.
PARTNERING WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION
Some of the countries that comprise the essential fabric of Europe’s security infrastructure are members of the European Union; others, like Romania and Bulgaria, will join one day soon. Others, like my own country, do not expect to become a Union member in the foreseeable future. Yet this makes Georgia no less of a European country, and perhaps makes us an even more indispensable one.
As we move forward, the European Union will be our model and our invaluable partner. Currently we host the EU’s largest rule of law mission; our cooperation with this mission has been praised by Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, to name a few. We also plan to do much more with the EU in the context of the Neighborhood Policy Action Plan, from reforming our courts and patrolling our borders against smugglers and traffickers to further strengthening our civil society. In fact, our vision is to become the model for how Europe can forge partnerships in its neighborhood with partners who do not have the immediate prospect of EU membership. And while we will continue to rely with gratitude on the EU in solidifying our democratic institutions, we are also intent on repaying this generosity—a profound partnership must bring benefits to both parties, and we believe this one does.
OBSTACLES TO PROGRESS
Looking to the future, it is clear that there are obstacles to our collective progress in the Black Sea/Caucasus region. Russia does not always seem enchanted by Georgia’s democratic transformation but democracy is not a zero-sum game. In the face of threats and dangers, we will look forward, not backward. Embargoes and economic subversion are tools of the past, to which, unfortunately, Georgia is subjected on a regular basis. But our resolve cannot be shaken. In fact, the trials we have been facing—from artificial energy shortages to wine embargoes—have only made us stronger.
I believe that our path can make Russia, Georgia, and all who call Europe their home winners in the global security challenge. Moscow’s cooperation in strategies that diversify energy, choke off criminals, eliminate terrorism, and build stable societies is central to all our efforts. Bringing stability to our region is a vital part of the European security project and together we must replace the frozen conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia with durable solutions. It is in our collective interests to do so because the threats that emerge from these regions are no longer isolated and limited to only undermining Georgia’s security. When we interdict counterfeit U.S. dollars that travel through South Ossetia and when we interdict highly enriched uranium coming across the same region we are stopping these threats from entering Europe.
But we must not just put a band-aid on these problems. We must look at the root causes, address their sources, and solve them peacefully and fully. The rest of Europe should not shrink from working with Georgia to peacefully resolve these problems. These issues are our collective challenge and, by pursuing a dignified solution, they are within our collective grasp to resolve.
It is in this context that I tell you that I expect Georgia will peacefully solve the frozen conflicts with Europe’s continued and, I hope, more intense involvement in the process. We need to bring peace and stability to the entire South Caucasus if for no other reason than to reach across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan and Europe’s partners in Central Asia who are watching closely, eager to see if democracy can succeed.
CONSOLIDATING DEMOCRACY OUTSIDE THE EU BORDERS
Just 15 years ago, many people believed that democracy was only for Western Europeans living in Germany, France, or Italy. Then, after the liberation of Eastern Europe, democracy was thought to be possible for Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and the Baltics—but certainly not for Ukraine or Georgia. After our Rose Revolution and the Orange Revolution, however, things changed. And today democracy is being debated ever more rigorously in Central Asia and across the former Soviet Union.
I believe democracy can and will succeed. And by drawing Georgia closer and closer into the Euro-Atlantic security framework, the transatlantic community is ensuring and institutionalizing a framework for lasting peace and stability. Rather than importing problems, we are creating mechanisms to strengthen Europe’s long-term security—through engagement and the expansion of our community of shared values.
In short, we in Georgia see our role as helping to consolidate European democracy outside the borders of the European Union. Our success in building democracy is therefore not just good for Georgia, it is good for the region and good for Europe. Together, we are building a common framework for freedom, liberty, and security that will embrace all of historical Europe, from the Atlantic to the shores of the Black Sea and the Baltics. This investment in democracy will make all of our countries safer and more secure, because now, more than ever, our security is your security. Therefore our common goals—and our common objective—must succeed.