(Civil.Ge) — Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili addressed the participants of the fourth South Caucasus Security Forum, the two-day foreign policy and security conference gathering Georgian and international security experts.
In his opening remarks on April 20, PM Kvirikashvili referred to the present times as “challenging … not only for our region, but for a wider region surrounding us” and called for “a common strategic vision and effective security arrangements in order to ensure European and regional security.”
Kvirikashvili highlighted Georgia’s precarious position, with “20 percent of [Georgia’s] territories occupied, with Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation deliberately visiting the occupied territories and with further militarization of occupied territories in full swing.” He, however, was quick to add that despite all this, Georgia was still “an island of… relative stability,” having transformed itself “from a country ravaged by civil war into a dynamic democratic state” in the last 25 years.
The Prime Minister said his vision was to solve the conflict peacefully through the engagement of Georgia’s strategic partners, such as the United States, the European Union, NATO “based on the full respect of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.”
He also reiterated Georgia’s determination to join the European Union and NATO and welcomed the introduction of “the universally crucial issue of Black Sea security” into NATO’s agenda. “Georgia, as a responsible partner, is committed to making its contribution,” he added.
Kvirikashvili also spoke on Georgia’s transit role, calling the country a “key component of the Great Silk Road” and saying that in Georgia “hardware meets software,” with “physical access through modern transport infrastructure and normative access in terms of free trade agreements.”
“A few years ago we signed a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement with the EU … we have already finalized negotiations and Georgia will be the first country in the region to have a free trade agreement with China. We also have in place free trade agreements with CIS, Turkey, GSP regimes with the United States, Canada and Japan and plan to launch FTA negotiations with India this year,” PM Kvirikashvili explained.
The Prime Minister went on to highlight Georgia’s strategic position “on the crossroads of practically every vital interest of the West and the East in our region” and stressed its role as “the stronghold of western interests in the region.” “This is what makes us valuable to our neighbors and partners in the context of building the security architecture. Let me assure you that we do recognize the magnitude of our responsibility,” Kvirikashvili noted.