|Updated: 14-May-2002||NATO Speeches|
EAPC Foreign Ministers
by H.E. Mr. Giorgi Burduli First Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia
Dear Secretary General,
First of all, let me start with congratulating Croatia to become a new member of the EAPC and PfP. Also, I would like to use this opportunity to welcome Russia's resumed cooperation in the EAPC.
When I saw the main subject for today's discussions, I recalled one observation on the international organisations' reaction on conflict prevention and crisis management: "The usual response of international organisations to crises passes through predictable phases: they ignore the problem; they issue a statement of concern about it; they wring their hands while sitting on them; they declare they remain seized of the matter; they adjourn."
Without a doubt, this view does not apply to NATO - action by Allies and Partners in Kosovo has been the most recent example. After a year of the end of Kosovo campaign and the launch of KFOR it is natural to assess the effectiveness of the operation and the role partners played in this process. Although the lasting peace in Kosovo is still far away, we are of the view that the KFOR activity has been the only and right thing to do to avoid further instability in the wider South-Eastern Europe. By sending a small unit to Kosovo, Georgia wanted to take its share of commitment for a secure and stable Europe since we believe that instability in one part of the continent means insecurity for all its countries.
EAPC and PfP have been involved in discussions on conflict prevention and crisis management since their initiation. We think that it has been an useful exercise in terms of sharing knowledge and experience. The work of EAPC Ad Hoc Group on Peacekeeping is particularly noteworthy in this regard. At the same time, any time the real crisis starts to intensify, the EAPC is not an active player. This is probably because NATO frequently prefers to act according to the principle "never treat crises when they are cold, only when they are hot". Only after a crisis enters the peacemaking phase, the fundamental role of Partners becomes evident. This is where we see the value of full implementation of the Political-Military Framework for NATO-led PfP Operations.
The discussions in EAPC on conflict prevention and crisis management are to be followed by real actions in different parts of Euro-Atlantic area. We must make use of all instruments at our disposal. In this regard, the prevention of the conflict in the Georgian region bordering Chechnya could be one of the topics to be further discussed in the EAPC since we think that it has a major role to play in preventive diplomacy. This is one of the cases where we, Allies and Partners, might increase the contribution of our Partnership to conflict prevention.
It goes without saying that the EAPC efforts aimed at preventing conflict and managing crisis should be closely coordinated with other international organisations working in the same dimension. The possibilities of creating inter-organisational ad hoc groups could be explored (NATO/EAPC, EU, UN, OSCE). They would focus on a given region or conflict and coordinate the efforts of various international organisations. This is one of the ideas how we might better utilise the EAPC in crisis management. As it happens, this mechanism has been already tested quite successfully in the case of the South-Eastern Europe - "Stability Pact", in particular.
We think that one of the lessons learned from Kosovo is the necessity to use international mechanisms, like Stability Pact for the South-Eastern Europe, before major crises arise. Therefore, it is essential that such tools apply to the other regions as well. For instance, if and when the existing idea of "the Stability Pact in the Caucasus" bears fruit, the role of the EAPC, along with the other international organisations, would be substantial in terms of focusing on the consultations and practical cooperation activities. Furthermore, PfP and "clearing house" mechanisms are also to be fully exploited in the EAPC while discussing various issues of politico-military character, regional security cooperation in the South Caucasus and assistance to the countries of the region in certain fields.
In order to build long term security, stability and and regional cooperation in the Caucasus, so called "frozen conflicts", as the one in Abkhazia, must not be forgotten since one more lesson learned from Kosovo conflict is the unacceptability of shortsightedness of international community playing "hide-and-seek" while dealing with certain conflicts for number of years. Moreover, the timely solution of the conflicts would establish favourite conditions for the intended "Pact for the Caucasus" to take place. In this regard, EAPC's role could be through regular consultations on these issues, briefings by those representatives of UN and OSCE involved in the negotiating process, etc. This is another idea how we might better utilise the EAPC in crisis management.
The regional cooperation in the Caucasus is still weak and we consider it in EAPC's advantage to encourage the countries of the region in advancing regional cooperation through the existing Ad Hoc Working Group on the Caucasus. In general, my authorities are satisfied with the useful work of the Group and other bodies of the EAPC as reflected in a Chairman's Report on EAPC Activities in the first half of 2000.
As an active partner of the Alliance, Georgia also supports other reports of the PfP related initiatives launched at the Washington Summit and presented to us for endorsement.