Georgia Looks to the NATO Brussels Summit
Since 1949, NATO’s membership has increased from 12 to 29 countries. Successive rounds of NATO enlargement have enhanced international security. Euro-Atlantic integration itself has also continuously fostered reform and ensured the stability necessary for prosperity. In theory, NATO’s door is open to all democracies that share Alliance values, that are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, and whose inclusion can contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area. However, the growing discrepancies between NATO members call into question the future of its enlargement. What is the message of Georgia prior NATO Brussels Summit?
David Rakviashvili is an assistant to the President of Georgia on national security issues and secretary of the National Security Council. Tomasz Pradzynski, program coordinator in GMF’s Warsaw office, asked him to give us the view from Georgia, expanding on the Eastern European security paradigm and shared hybrid threats.
What deliverables do you expect from the upcoming NATO Brussels Summit in terms of integration?
David Rakviashvili: In Bucharest, Allies decided that Georgia will become member of NATO. This decision has been the driving force for Georgia to continue its NATO integration process as the aspirant country and the significant progress Georgia has achieved since then. Later, during the Warsaw Summit, Allies once again reiterated that NATO–Georgia relations contain all practical tools to prepare for membership. Georgia is strongly committed to the use of those tools, as well as bilateral military cooperation with the key Allies, to build our defense capabilities and resilience in order to boost the readiness of Georgia Armed Forces to adequately respond to all threats and challenges to the Euro-Atlantic security.
There are plenty of mutually beneficial perspectives in practical cooperation between NATO and Georgia especially in the areas such as the Black Sea security and strengthening resilience against common hybrid threats. Nonetheless, in light of the current strategic political and security environment in the Euro-Atlantic area, it is essential that Georgia–NATO relations are always discussed in the context of enlargement, which will ensure continuity of the integration agenda and demonstrate NATO’s credibility toward its own decisions.
All NATO Allies understand the importance of Georgia’s integration process not to be held hostage to Russian occupation and, therefore, need for clear decoupling of Georgia’s NATO accession process from the process of de-occupation of Georgia’s territories. It is instrumental that the Allies acknowledge the fact of the illegal occupation of Georgia’s regions in the NATO Brussels Summit statement. NATO and all Allies unequivocally support Georgia’s territorial integrity. NATO regularly calls on Russia to reverse its recognition of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states, to stop its construction of border-like obstacles along the administrative boundary lines, and to withdraw its forces from Georgia. Most NATO countries de jure condemned illegal occupation of Georgian territories.
Leaders at the 2016 NATO Warsaw Summit developed a Tailored Forward Presence in the Black Sea region. How do you interpret the implementation of this decision and how does it relate to the Eastern European security paradigm?
David Rakviashvili: Russia’s destabilizing moves in the Black Sea region undermine Eastern European security, but also the Euro-Atlantic security in general. Russian belligerent actions threaten the long-standing goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. A safe and peaceful Black Sea region is essential for the European energy and overall security, economic prosperity, and connectivity. Russia’s militarization of the Black Sea region increases risks to the flow of energy supplies to Europe, while the use of hybrid strategies by Russia is further injecting instability and unpredictability into the Black Sea security environment. The failure of the Euro-Atlantic community to stand united in upholding the fundamental principles of the international law, European security, and democratic values in the regionwould lead to indirect legitimation of the spheres of influence Russia is fighting for.
Common approaches and concerted actions to deter and defend against those threats will largely determine the fate of the region: whether it can fulfil its historic mission of connecting east and west for the benefit of all, or become a new wall dividing contemporary Europe. The reaffirmation at the Warsaw Summit of NATO’s strategic interest in the Black Sea region with a decision for a Tailored Forward Presence, along with the resolution 437 of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on stability and security, the 2016 EU Global Strategy and 2017 Eastern Partnership summit conclusions provide a basis for effective actions.
Given the scale of this challenge, we welcome the establishment of the Tailored Forward Presence in the Black Sea as a vital constituent of NATO’s deterrence and defense posture in the East and South-East of the Alliance. It is encouraging that NATO has stepped up its presence in the Black Sea region with the battle groups, air police, etc. The alliance has tripled its response forces and they are ready to be deployed in a time of need. Now, it is important to stand strong and united, which includes the non-member partner countries as well. The only recommendation from our side is for NATO to develop a common approach to its Southern and Northern tiers of Eastern Flank by synchronizing and coordinating policies of Enhanced and Tailored forward presence.
Georgia faces many of the same challenges as NATO member states, specifically hybrid threats. How does Georgia build resilience to these challenges, and what does a joint reaction with NATO look like?
David Rakviashvili: The primary aim of Russia’s information campaigns and psychological pressure against Georgian state and its society is to debilitate national resilience. Kremlin’s information warfare strategies in Georgia has been directed toward raising skepticism in liberal values, fostering uncertainty about country’s European future, encouraging hate speech, xenophobia, and homophobia as well as exploiting cultural and linguistic divides. As Russia views Georgia as the battleground against spread of democracy in its neighborhood, the hybrid pressure has reached unprecedented levels in recent years.
To address the complex security environment in the whole Euro-Atlantic area and growing hybrid challenges that Georgia and the region are facing, the country needs effective and well-designed national security architecture that is in full compliance with democratic principles. Any reform of the national security system needs to be based on a strong conceptual vision directed at strengthening national security architecture through clear mechanisms of coordination, division of responsibilities, more democratic control and accountability. The legal, institutional and system-level changes in the national security and defense system of Georgia should draw on the best practices of Western democracies and meet NATO interoperability standards.
The only effective way to stay safe in the contemporary security environment is to constantly invest in building resilience of the state institutions and society through exercising a whole-of-nation approach. The President of Georgia H.E Giorgi Margvelashvili has held a year-long campaign, the primary objective of which is to increase awareness and resilience of the Georgian public in the face of challenges to the national security and to encourage a whole-of-nation approach toward deterrence and counter measures. The goal is to promote an inclusive process and wider engagement of state, nongovernmental and private sector representatives in developing new approaches for dealing with shared problems.
Hybrid threats require hybrid responses. At the institutional level, a center for countering hybrid threats through boosting resilience should be established in Georgia offering assessment of vulnerabilities and probing into the methods to counter hybrid threats. Georgia could also be more active in lobbying itself into the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats already operating in Helsinki. It is necessary to produce a national hybrid resilience strategy through an inter-agency cooperation while also consulting local and international expert community.
For GMF analysis on this topic, please read: Beyond NATO’s Eastern Border: Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.