NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

09 Nov. 2011

Opening remarks

by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Niki Gilauri at the NATO-Georgia Commission meeting in Tbilisi

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (Secretary General of NATO): And now I'm glad to pass the floor to you, Mr. Prime Minister. The floor is yours.

NIKI GILAURI (Prime Minister of Georgia): Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Secretary General. Welcome you all, distinguished ambassadors, dear guests. I would like to welcome you all into Tbilsi. It's my privilege to host you here in Georgia one more time for the NATO-Georgia Commission.

This is a commission that has been established a few years ago, in 2008 and this is a commission that has been working quite efficiently and effectively in the past couple of years.

First of all, I would like to acknowledge that we are very proud that Georgian soldiers are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with NATO Allies in Afghanistan for peace. We are very proud that Georgia is contributing to the international security and will continue on the same paths.

Also a very important message that I would like to give you is that Georgia's NATO aspiration is not some political party's agenda. It's not only the political agenda of this government. It's a consensus of the whole society. It's a consensus of the whole political spectrum. A few days ago... a few months ago, actually, polls were done and approximately 80 percent of the Georgian population supports Georgia's movement towards NATO, Georgia's path towards NATO, which is very, very significant.

Since the Bucharest Summit many things have changed, much progress has been made, many reforms have been adopted in Georgia. Reforms in the democratic agenda, reforms in the justice system, reforms in the economy. According to the World Bank we are the number one reformer in the world in the past five years, which is not an easy thing to have, to do.

We have reformed the bureaucracy. Right now I think the biggest achievement of our reforms is fighting corruption. According to Transparency International, Georgia is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. I'll just give you some figures of the recent polls made by Transparency International. Only three percent of Georgians believe there's corruption in Georgia. The EU average is four percent, United States four percent. The only countries that had better achievement than ours were Great Britain, South Korea, Canada, Nordic countries and Singapore. So we are in very good company.

We have put together a very comprehensive reforms agenda in absolutely every way and that actually proved quite successful for us, from an economic point of view, from a growth point of view, and from a healthiness point of view.

Of course, not everything is perfect. Of course, not all reforms have been finalized yet. There is still high unemployment. There are still problems in the economy, but right now in terms of macro parameters, in terms of the economic situation, Georgia can be said to be one of the healthiest countries in the region.

Which is more important is that we are exporters of our reforms. In the post-Soviet Union many nations, many countries, have been told that corruption, no democratic situation, no human rights, no freedom of speech, is part of everyday life just because it's post-Soviet Union. And this has been the situation for the past many, many years. Same in Georgia, seven, eight years ago.

However, we proved in very short period of time, in a six, seven years period, that you can be pro-NATO, pro-European, pro-human rights, pro-freedom of speech, pro-democratic, pro-market economy, you can fight corruption successfully and be successful. And this is, I think, is one of the biggest achievements of this country which we are all very proud of.

Right now the situation is that many leaders of many countries around us—Ukraine, Moldova, Central Asian countries, even Arab Spring countries—are coming to Georgia, leaders of those countries, politicians, NGOs, journalists, are coming to Georgia to learn of Georgian reforms; how to move forward, how to fight corruption, how to have democratic reforms as well.

And I think these are very important steps that have been made. I hope you will be able to see those reforms yourself and I hope these reforms, that these successes, will be acknowledged in the short- and medium-term agenda of NATO and in the nearest NATO Summit.

This is what I wanted to say as opening remarks. One more time I would like to welcome you all. I'll be having much more detailed discussion about reforms and about the economic agenda after the media will leave us and we'll have a closed session.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. And may I now kindly ask the media to leave the room.