NATO Parliamentary Assembly
HomeWORKSessions2017 Spring Session - Tbilisi

NATO Parliamentary Assembly Spring Session, Tbilisi, 26-29 May 2017

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WELCOME MESSAGE FROM THE HEAD OF THE GEORGIAN DELEGATION

Dear members and guests of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly,

On behalf of the Georgian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliament of Georgia, it is my pleasure and honour to welcome all of you to Georgia.

As you are aware, Georgia is the fifth non-member state of the Alliance to host a NATO PA session. Hence, this is a historic moment not only for the Assembly, but for Georgia as well. The last country which hosted a session was Bulgaria in 2002 and after a short time it became a full member of the European Union and NATO. 

The capital of Georgia, Tbilisi is a historic and a strategic place in the Caucasus region, which gave the country an opportunity to be a connecting hub between the West and the East. Like the NATO PA, Tbilisi is a home of diverse cultural and religious heritage, a place of shared values and common interest of democratic and economic development with the rest of Europe. Therefore, Georgia continues to prove its firm commitment to consolidating democracy in the country. It has become a showcase in the region as a model of a rapid democratic transformation. The last presidential and parliamentary elections are an effective demonstration of democratic progress and political maturity.

The Parliament of Georgia has turned into a strong institution, representing diverse parties and a robust opposition. Furthermore, Georgia remains committed to its Euro-Atlantic integration and we are working to further strengthen the way our institutions function, thus increasing the level of democracy in the country. Despite many obstacles on our way we are making progress step by step. For instance, recently, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve visa liberalisation for Georgian citizens.

We realize that the democratic development of Georgia is not only a requirement towards Euro‑Atlantic integration; it is also our desire and more importantly, what Georgian society demands. Hosting the NATO PA Spring Session in Tbilisi is a good example of our country’s further democratic development.

Unfortunately, our progress is not a pleasant development in the region for some, like the Russian Federation. Moscow has militarily violated Georgia’s territorial sovereignty and has illegally occupied the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian military aggression and its provocations in various forms towards its neighbours have become routine by the Kremlin. Economic sanctions by the European Union and its partners are imperative to slow down this aggression, but more needs to be done. Therefore, it is crucial that we have a visible progress on both the practical and political side of Georgia’s EU and NATO membership process.

 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

The emerging challenges including in the fields of security and the economy have become part of our everyday life. The contemporary threats are real and require an adequate response from our societies. However, in responding, we should not forget the fundamentals of good governance, accountability, transparency and the rule of law. 

Georgia is a small country with a long history of many great success stories. Like many NATO PA member states, Georgia faces similar unconventional threats as well. Terrorism, the migration crises, and the role of new technology in our everyday life makes us vulnerable to hidden threats. Therefore, it is essential that our partnership through our parliaments, governments and organisations like the NATO PA should be used to its fullest means to deepen and widen our relationship in many mutually beneficial areas.

Hence, Georgia remains committed to further enhance its relationship with the Alliance. Our significant contribution to common Euro-Atlantic security and the country’s sizeable participation in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and NATO Response Forces are good examples of close cooperation with the Alliance.   

Furthermore, we highly value the Allies’ commitment to ensure effective implementation of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, as well as new initiatives of practical cooperation. We welcome the decision made at the Warsaw Summit to increase NATO’s presence in the Black Sea region and at the same time to further strengthen cooperation with Georgia.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Georgia’s relationship with the Alliance contains all the practical tools to prepare our country for eventual membership. As the Bucharest Summit Declaration states: Georgia will become a member of NATO.

On that note, let me wish you a fruitful session with many shared good memories in Tbilisi and a pleasant experience during your stay in Georgia.

Looking forward to seeing all of you in Tbilisi.

 

Mr Irakli Sesiashvili

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY

Dear friends and colleagues,

The first NATO Parliamentary Assembly session to be held in Georgia marks a milestone in our relationship and sends an important signal of solidarity with the Georgian people as they seek their rightful place in the Euro-Atlantic community of democracies.  Our Assembly has consistently supported NATO’s open door policy and worked very closely with the Georgian parliament – including through the Georgia-NATO Interparliamentary Council – to help Georgia transform its membership aspirations into a reality.

Georgia has made impressive progress in moving toward this goal. It continues to make exceptional contributions to NATO operations, particularly in Afghanistan, contributions for which our nations are immensely grateful. Beyond the transformation of the defence and security sector, the strength of democratic institutions is a critical prerequisite for NATO membership. In this regard, Georgia has undergone a truly remarkable evolution, and, although there is still room for improvement, has set a new standard for the entire region.

The Euro-Atlantic community strongly supports Georgia’s territorial integrity, and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly has done so very openly and clearly.

We meet here in Tbilisi amidst a period of great global uncertainty. The Euro-Atlantic community’s eastern and southern flanks have been destabilised by Russia’s adventurism and the widespread turmoil across the Middle East. In addition, terrorism, cyber-attacks, disinformation, refugee flows, the rise of narrow‑minded nationalism as well as enduring instability in parts of the Western Balkans and Afghanistan challenge the security of our citizens while straining the cohesion of our societies and our international community.

In this difficult environment, our parliaments and this Assembly have a duty to protect our democracies and the multilateral institutions which have provided for our security and well-being since the end of World War II. We must do more to highlight to our publics the vital importance of these institutions and of the democratic values which underpin them. As parliamentarians and members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, we are particularly well placed to explain to our citizens – and particularly our youth – why we must invest in our defence and how NATO helps us protect our values and defend our societies. We should drive this communication and education effort in each one of our nations, working hand in hand with our governments, schools and universities.  

The Summits of Allied Heads of State and Government in Wales, Warsaw and just this week in Brussels have reignited our commitment to common defence and have introduced a series of concrete measures to reinforce our security. This year, NATO troops and equipment arrive in Poland and the Baltic States as part of an effort to demonstrate the Alliance’s resolve to defend each and every ally. This strengthened presence is defensive and proportionate. Allies have also agreed to increase NATO’s presence in the Black Sea and tostrengthen cooperation with Georgia and Ukraine in this area.

At the same time, NATO has enhanced its contribution to the international community’s efforts to combat terrorism, and root out Daesh in Iraq and Syria in particular. The Alliance is also helping address the humanitarian consequences of ongoing instability in the region.

In its efforts to project stability in its neighbourhood, NATO is working closely with other international institutions. This cooperation is fundamental, and our Assembly can support it through closer relations with partner parliaments, as well as with partner institutions such as the European Parliament, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the African Union.

As agreed in Wales, the decline of defence budgets has been stopped, and our governments and parliaments are developing plans for further investments. More needs to be done, however, both in terms of actual spending and in terms of efficiency. Europeans should seek ways to build greater synergies among their defence institutions, building on the impressive progress in NATO-EU cooperation achieved in recent years.

All these themes will feature high on our agenda during the next few days. This Spring Session in Tbilisi will provide an excellent opportunity to consider the way ahead for our Alliance and our Assembly. It will also naturally offer a perfect venue to take stock of our cooperation with Georgia, pay tribute to its contribution to regional and global security, and help inform Georgian citizens about NATO’s response to today’s threats, Georgia’s extensive cooperation with the Alliance, and its prospects for eventual membership.  

I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude and thanks to the organizers and hosts of this session, particularly Irakli Sesiashvili, Head of the Georgian delegation, for their outstanding hospitality.

I wish us all a productive session.

 

Mr Paolo Alli

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