Updated: 22-Nov-2002 NATO Speeches


22 Nov. 2002


by President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze at the EAPC Summit

Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and gentlemen,

All of us - the allied and partner nations - who have gathered here in Prague are witnessing a defining moment in the fundamental transformation of the North Atlantic Alliance.

Georgia attributes vital importance to this transformation and regards two of its elements as possessing special significance. One is continuing to adapt NATO to deal with the challenges of the new international environment which above all implies effective action to counter a new set of dangers in whatever ways they manifest themselves. The other is NATO's further enlargement.

I believe that the creation of NATO's new Rapid Reaction Force is a very timely and necessary initiative to achieve the first objective, namely the prevention of possible future terrorist- acts and elimination of the sources that foster terrorism, such as religious fanaticism, aggressive separatism and extremist nationalism. The so called "white spots'' that emerge as a result of aggressive separatist activities, often turn into nidi of terrorist infection. Georgia as an active member of the Partnership for Peace program stands ready to cooperate fully with the Alliance to address this problem in our region which happens to be an outpost of a civilization that regards freedom and humanism, in the widest possible sense, as its central values.

Georgia's future as an independent nation is hinged on obtaining firm guarantees for the-protection of these very values and we, therefore, strongly welcome further eastward expansion of the Alliance. We congratulate all those nations that have been invited to become full members of NATO or will be offered to join in the very" near future. As the president of a Black Sea state, I am particularly satisfied that the invitations have been extended to Romania and Bulgaria. This brings the Black Sea area into NATO's sphere of interests and adds a new dimension to its security.

We welcome the progress in deepening the cooperation between NATO and Russia and the distinctive partnership that has been forged between NATO and Ukraine since we regard these developments as a cornerstone not only of the Euro-Atlantic, but also of global security.

South-East Europe, particularly the Caucasus region has been gaining ever greater importance for the entire continent and the Euro-Atlantic community at large. The region serves as a major outlet for the Caspian hydrocarbons to world markets and at the same time provides the shortest routes linking the West to the natural wealth, labor and markets in Central Asia, Afghanistan and the Far East. The same routes, however carry the risk of becoming thoroughfares for the spread of new transnational threats, different from those of the past including threats posed by terrorism. We, therefore, consider that the region of the South Caucasus and Central Asia, indeed merits the special attention the Alliance has shown by deepening cooperation with it.

Anyone who has spent at least a week in Georgia knows well that by virtue of the dynamic development of the civil society, practically every problem of serious concern becomes here a subject of heated public debate. Yet, I can also assure you that perhaps the only issue in the recent years against which no reasonable argument has ever been suggested is the Georgian public's perspective on the future of the country's national security which is widely seen in the context of the country's membership in the North Atlantic Alliance. I am happy that at the Summit of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council I can declare that Georgia is determined to be a full member of NATO and is resolved to work hard to prepare for this historic mission.

For a country like Georgia this is not a short road, yet not as long as it seemed only a couple of years ago. This is evidenced among other things by the State Program for the Euro-Atlantic Integration developed by the National Security Council of Georgia, the ongoing reform of the Georgian army consistent with the standards NATO demands, as well as by the units trained under the American-Georgian Train and Equip program that will eventually form the main body of the streamlined Georgian armed forces. Also I am fully convinced that the engagement in the Individual Partnership Action Plan will create incentive for Georgia to accelerate and more boldly pursue political, economic and military reforms. We also realize that the admissions will be reserved only for those countries that aside from expecting to be defended and assisted by the Alliance, will at the same time be in a position to contribute to a full range of its missions by safeguarding and promoting the Euro-Atlantic values in their respective regions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

ue to historical vicissitudes, my people have for centuries been cut off from the western civilization although it always saw its rightful place there. I know that every citizen of Georgia is looking to the meeting in Prague with great hope since this Summit indeed marks a turning point for my country and people for whom democracy and freedom are supreme values.

Finally, let me extend my sincere thanks to President Havel for his hospitality in hosting this event.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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