Dr. Khatuna Burkadze – Proactive foreign policy will promote to achieve Georgia’s European goals

Interpressnews discussed foreign policy issues with Prof. Dr. Khatuna Burkadze, Director of Foreign Policy Studies at Geocase, an alumna of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and the Harvard Program on Negotiations.

Because of the Russian aggressive actions against Ukraine security environment has changed in the region. The West pays special attention to the Black Sea region. What would be the role of Georgia in a new security order?

- The Black Sea region has become an arena of Russian aggressive actions. The repeated, unprovoked, illegal, and violent attempts aim to expand territories and control the Black Sea. Russian imperialistic goals represent a threat to the U.S., European, Euro-Atlantic, and the entire international community.

The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine challenged the international security system. The rules-based international order should be protected by all actors of the international community.

Littoral states of the Black Sea including Georgia are critical in contributing to the collective security of Euro-Atlantic space. We should continue to work with the U.S., NATO, and EU to enhance security capabilities and develop new initiatives for democratic resilience and economic prosperity.

The Russian large-scale aggressive actions against Ukraine have demonstrated that diversification of transit routes and the creation of alternative energy sources are key priorities to address challenges of energy security. In cooperation with partners, we can strengthen transport, energy, and digital infrastructure connectivity which will promote the development of new transit routes. In this regard, the “Agreement on Strategic Partnership in the field of Green Energy Development and Transmission between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, and Hungary” can increase transit opportunities. The Black Sea cable project will allow us to become a significant energy security partner. This process alongside other large-scale projects will enhance Georgia’s strategic role in the region.

- The NATO Ministerial was held on November 29-30, 2022. Allies discussed the situation in Ukraine and the future plans. How do you evaluate the results of the NATO Ministerial for Georgia?

- The Allies discussed existing security threats and challenges together with Georgia. Inviting Georgia to the NATO ministerial meeting was a significant opportunity for the Georgian side to enhance relations with member states of the Alliance. This decision has illustrated that Georgia is a valuable partner for NATO.

Allies agreed that they will continue to assist Georgia to build its resilience and develop capabilities through appropriate security measures. According to the 2022 NATO Strategic Concept, the Alliance will enhance its support to partners affected by Russian threats including Georgia to strengthen their defense capabilities.

According to the statement of NATO Foreign Ministers Allies firmly stand behind their commitment to the Alliance’s Open Door policy. They reaffirm the 2008 Bucharest Summit and all subsequent decisions concerning Georgia and Ukraine.

NATO Foreign Ministers underlined that “Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine threatens Euro-Atlantic peace, security, and prosperity”. Allies will continue and further step up political and practical support to Ukraine. NATO will continue to coordinate closely with the European Union to overcome the present geopolitical challenges.

The NATO ministerial meeting represented a significant step to prepare for the 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius. The development of new proposals can facilitate new practical and political decisions in Vilnius. Because of the changed security environment, accelerating Georgia’s integration into the North Atlantic Alliance is essential to address the security challenges effectively.

- In the changed security environment strengthening cybersecurity is a key priority for national security policy. In your opinion, what kind of measures should be taken to build cyber resilience?

- Because of current realities, we need to develop new initiatives for the enhancement of institutional capacities for the protection of critical information systems. Due to cyber threats, establishing a permanent cybersecurity platform is essential. This platform would aim to strengthen cyber resilience in Georgia by improving coordination between the public and private sectors. At the same time, we should continue to conduct international cyber exercises and training in cooperation with partners. We can establish a joint platform to overcome hybrid threats including cyber challenges.

Also, general and higher educational institutions should develop cyber hygiene and cybersecurity learning courses to raise awareness regarding cyber challenges and improve professional skills for the protection of data including personal data in digital space by using appropriate technical measures and considering legal standards.

-As it is known the European Union is ready to grant the status of candidate country to Georgia once the twelve priorities will be implemented. However, we face political polarization again. How can we achieve European goals?

- Proactive foreign policy will promote to achieve Georgia’s European goals. Simultaneously, decreasing political polarization is essential. The existing polarization not only impedes the development of the country but also threatens the historical opportunity of Georgia's integration into the European Union and poses serious threats to our national interests.

Georgian society takes a unified and consolidated position on the constitutional priorities of joining the European Union. This fact should be taken into consideration by political parties.

Politicians should realize the importance of depolarization. We need to reach a consensus for consolidating efforts to create a common agenda to implement the twelve priorities. This process will accelerate Georgia’s European integration which is our civilizational choice.


Koba Bendeliani

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