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Defence Minister Spoke at RUSI

Friday, September 18
The Minister of Defence of Georgia, Tinatin Khidasheli, delivered a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) within the frames of her visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In her public lecture, Georgia's Minister of Defence provided her thoughts on the key foreign and security policy priorities from Georgia's perspective, including the ways on how to deal with an antagonistic Russia, implications for wider European security relating to the Ukraine crisis, Georgia's contribution to Euro-Atlantic Security, Georgia-NATO relations and potential cooperation on the rising threat of terrorism.

“Georgia is becoming a country of special interest for the world not only for its aspirations and devotion to democratic values, but also for the sake of Europe’s energy security. Georgia’s security has strategic importance, especially with regards to the energy corridor, railway links connecting China to Europe, future prospects, what the world might expect under the conditions of achieving agreements between Iran, Western Europe and USA. Probably this is the cause and outcome of the problem Georgia encountered. As it appears, it is unfeasible and unacceptable for Russia when such a free corridor and territory exits outside of its control and influence. Meanwhile, this corridor is used for Europe’s energy security, for connecting Asia and Europe, for turnover and trade, for success…since Russia’s interest is clear, such unambiguous intent should be the interests of our partners and those countries who benefit from this corridor of freedom. Obviously, this is one of our arguments that we should declare loudly at all forums to explain the practical reason why they should stand by Georgia and by those great goals including democracy, European aspirations and the enlargement of the whole European family,” she said.

A Research Fellow at RUSI, Sarah Lain, gave a positive evaluation to the Minister’s speech and emphasized the remark when she said that Georgia deserves NATO and EU membership: “I am so delighted to host the Minister of Defence of Georgia here today. I think the real topics of the discussion obviously referred to Georgia’s security, particularly its relations with the EU and NATO. I think the Minister stated Georgia’s position very frankly, particularly with respect to what is happening in Ukraine and the threats that Russia poses to Georgia. I think it was very interesting and useful to hear Georgia’s point of view, particularly in London which is really a very important place for discussions around defence and security, as the UK is one of the key NATO Alliance members. So this message can get across to many platforms that are provided in London better. The key message that I took away was that Georgia should be rewarded on its own merits. I think that applies to both EU and NATO membership. Georgia wants to take responsibility for her own actions and not have this third party – Russia having a veto right. NATO and EU need this message clear in terms of how it sees Georgia’s future, how it sees cooperation of Georgia with the Alliance.”

Georgian students studying in London also attended the Minister’s public speech at RUSI. Natia Seskuria, undergoing master’s program in Policy, Security and Integration said: “The Minister clearly talked about Georgia’s strategic interests and Russia-Georgia relationship, especially regarding the problems with the so-called republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. She sent relevant and correct messages to our Western partners. In my opinion, the visit to the UK and to RUSI was very productive”.