|Updated: 22-Nov-2002||NATO Speeches|
22 Nov. 2002
by President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze at the EAPC Summit
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
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
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.
Thank you very much for your attention.