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New Security Concept lists ‘serious challenges’ for Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, February 21
A 40-page draft of the new National security concept was presented to the Parliament by Deputy Secretary of National Security Council, Batu Kutelia, on February 18. The major challenges in the new document, which would replace the one adopted in July 2005, are mainly related to Russia.

Russian military “occupation of parts of Georgian territory” and “a risk of renewed military aggression by Russia” is identified in the draft concept as one of the major threats and challenges Georgia is facing. The modified draft says that “the Russian Federation’s major aim is to derail Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspiration and to forcibly return Georgia back on the Russian orbit.” Georgia’s relations with Russia are also discussed in a separate chapter on “Major Directions of Georgia’s National Security Policy.” It says that Tbilisi aspires to have relations with Russia based on “good neighborly and equal principles." It, however, also says that “it will not be possible without the respect of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia.” “Georgia supports the Russian Federation’s transformation into a stable democratic country,” the draft reads.

The document also identifies social-economic development as “a serious challenge” for the country’s security. “Inappropriate social and economic development may contribute to social and political tensions and pose a threat to the country’s sustainable development, stability and national security,” the draft reads. The draft also identifies terrorism, cyber-attacks, energy security, ecology, organized transnational crime and demography as challenges for the national security.

According to the draft of the national security concept, Georgia “is deepening strategic partnership” with the United States. On Ukraine, the document says that “Georgia aspires to maximally use possibilities of strategic partnership” with Kiev. The draft concept describes Turkey as Georgia’s “leading regional partner.” It says that Georgia “pays huge attention to the development of close cooperation” with Moldova, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, as well as “with other Central Asian countries.” The draft concept says that Georgia also pays attention to broadening economic relations with China, Middle East countries, Japan, India and Brazil, as well as to the continuation of establishing diplomatic relations with Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Another of the main priorities of the country, based on the concept, is "equal involvement of multi ethnic Georgian representatives in the country's social and economic life and encouragement of different ethnic groups' integration in Georgian society." At the same time, support of their identity, language, culture and religion is also foreseen in the draft.

Batu Kutelia, Deputy Secretary of National Security Council, told lawmakers at the hearing that “regime change” in Georgia was Russia’s “declared intention” and it should be reflected in the concept.

Georgian opposition and analysts have their remarks regarding the draft and demand some corrections of the points," based on the draft, regarding the 2008 August war, real aims and intentions of the military aggression from the Russian side is mentioned. I demand the removal of the point from the draft, which says that the final aim of the august war was the replacement of Georgia's pro west authorities and not the occupation of Georgian regions and their recognition as independent republics, "Nika Laliashvili, from Christian-Democratic Movement, said. Oppositional vice speaker, Paata Davitaia advised the authorities to make a separate point regarding borders in the draft," the draft touches upon the borders only in the part related with security issues, however strengthening the borders should be one of the main aims of the authorities and requires a separate chapter in the concept."

Analyst Kakha Gogolashvili also made some remarks regarding the draft, "The concept draft does not focus enough on strengthening relations with the western countries. There are points regarding strengthening of relations with the US, Ukraine and Turkey, however not such countries as Germany, France and Great Britain. It is important that our relations with those western countries are reflected in the document and perspectives of future collaboration with them." As he has mentioned, the remaining points of the document are acceptable to him.

Discussions over the security concept are expected to continue in parliament. The document will likely be discussed in certain committees, after which meetings with representatives of the parliamentary majority, as well as the minority, will be held.