Georgian Defense and Security Conference in Batumi
By Ana Robakidze
Monday, July 1
Euro-Atlantic security, NATO enlargement, ongoing reform in the Georgian defense sphere, the ISAF mission, the Black Sea Basin's strategic importance and Georgia’s democratic development, were all discussed at the Georgian Defense and Security Conference (GDSC) in Batumi on June 28-29.
Defense Minister of Georgia, Irakli Alasania, opened the security policy forum and focused on the importance of the event in his welcome speech.
Georgia’s aspiration to Euro-Atlantic structures was the major issue Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili focused on during the speech he delivered in Batumi: “Our country made a straightforward political choice ten years ago – integration into the Euro-Atlantic family. The choice means to be a member of the modern civilized global commonwealth. It won’t change under any authority– as it is a choice made by the Georgian people,” Ivanishvili stated.
Euro-Atlantic Security Issues were discussed at the first panel of the conference. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Maia Panjikidze; Minister for International Security Strategy of the UK, Dr. Andrew Murrison; the Council on Foreign Relations of the USA and former Minister of Defense of Poland, Senator Bogdan Klick, delivered speeches to the attendees. In her speech, Panjikidze focused on Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration process and successes that Georgia has reached on its way. "We have discussed new approaches with Russia and the internal challenges as well," the Georgian Foreign Minister commented after the meeting.
Participants addressed NATO Enlargement issues at the second panel of the conference. Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian Permanent Representatives to NATO and the Defense Minister of Macedonia, Talat Xhaferi, participated in the panel.
Permanent Representative of Lithuania to NATO, Ambassador Kestutis Jankauskas, said he welcomes new members to NATO and the alliance should help the countries to prepare for the membership. "We had a discussion about NATO enlargement, about its historic meaning. In my view, it has always brought more peace and security to Europe, more freedom, securing the democratic developments. Looking at the four candidates and issues of preparedness of the candidate countries, Georgia is one of them... So the question is there – how to make candidates more ready in order for them to us to restart the strategic discussion of enlargement? Jankauskas said.
The ongoing reforms in Georgian Defense Ministry, the transparency of Defense system, and the NATO interoperability and capabilities of the Georgian Armed Forces were discussed during the third panel of the international forum.
Alasania addressed the panel and mainly focused on the main aspects of Georgia’s national security environment and familiarized the participants with the ongoing reforms in defense structure. He also thanked the participants for being supportive of Georgia in defense and security reforms.
Commander of ISAF, General Joseph F. Dunford, also took part in the conference. He spoke about the mission and its future plans on the second day of the conference. Following the panel, the Commander talked to the media and said that he fully welcomes Georgia's participation in the Afghan mission. "I can tell you, as a commander, I would welcome the Georgian forces to continue to support us in the mission in Afghanistan to include the post 2014 mission again, because of their professionalism. I believe they would make a unique contribution to Afghan stability and security," Dunford said.
The conference takes place annually and represents an important format to address developments in defense and security on international, regional and national levels and provides an opportunity to exchange thoughts and visions among government, parliament and civil society representatives.
The conference has become a major event in the region of South-Caucasus. The format of the conference allows addressing developments in defense and security on international, regional and national levels and provides an opportunity to exchange thoughts and visions among government, parliament and civil society representatives.