NATO HQ Meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council

Dear Secretary General,
Dear Colleagues,

Over the recent years the EAPC/PfP cooperation has become a permanent feature of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture. One could hardly overestimate the role of this partnership both in fostering mutual confidence throughout the continent and in developing operational capabilities to jointly address threats and risks to our common security. Participation of Georgia in the International Peacekeeping Operations in support of peace in Kosovo has been a successful trial of practical results yielded in the "Partnership for Peace" framework.

In the framework of our efforts to achieve lasting security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area free of spheres of influence and dividing lines, we attach importance to making full use of the consultation mechanisms laid down in the EAPC Basic Document.

Mr. Chairman,

As it is evidently seen in the Progress Report on development of the NATO's South-East Europe Initiative (SEEI), collective efforts of the Euro-Atlantic nations have ensured the success of regional cooperation and contributed to the democratic changes in this part of Europe. We strongly believe that this experience could be employed in other regions as well, namely in the Caucasus - through developing the idea on stability arrangements for the Caucasus" which we all have been actively considering of late.

The EAPC activities in the second half of 2000, reflected in the Chairman's report, have to be considered as useful and productive. We also support the updated EAPC Action Plan. We appreciate the special emphasis in this document on regional issues related to South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Georgia strongly supports the retention of the transatlantic link as a vital element of security and stability in Europe.

Mr. Chairman,

The enhancement of EAPC and PfP serves as clear evidence of the right course for the security of our common house - the Euro-Atlantic area. Georgia considers the EAPC to be instrumental in reviewing and solving numerous stability and security problems in this area. Therefore, we support the idea on raising the profile of the EAPC. We especially encourage proposals to pay more attention to certain regions of the Euro-Atlantic space. In this regard, the EAPC has already provided a useful forum for developing regional security cooperation practices, namely through the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Caucasus. The steps already taken in this context have proven to be small but still very productive and coherent for future larger cooperation in the South Caucasus.

In our view, the EAPC along with PfP, can make a substantial contribution to address the challenges to the regional stability, complementing the efforts of the other international organizations, e.g. the UN, the OSCE, etc. One of them is of course conflict prevention. The importance and effectiveness of the last year's discussions held within the EAPC format on the tensions on the Chechen segment of Georgian-Russian border has to be stated in this respect. I would like herewith to draw your attention to a positive role that PfP can play in terms of improving national capabilities in the sphere of border control, particularly, in preventing illegal and uncontrolled trafficking of small arms and light weapons.

While co-operation between states is elevated to the completely new level to achieve the long-term security and stability, it seems awkward to have to stress on the basic principles of interstate relations. In this regard, we must regrettably note the fact that Russia has unilaterally granted special visa privileges to the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Region, that can adversely affect the regional stability. We call upon Russia to look jointly for a solution of this issue through negotiations.

We appreciate the attention paid by the NATO/EAPC to the arms control issues. I would like to note the progress achieved in the implementation of the Istanbul Joint Statement provisions on the reduction and withdrawal of Russian military equipment (TLE) from Georgia. Herewith, I would like to stress the importance of transparency of the military equipment reduction process as well as complete withdrawal of the bases.

We are delighted to underline the progress achieved in the TLE withdrawal process from the Gudauta military base. We appreciate NAC Defence Ministerial Communique which welcomes the efforts of the Russian side. We hope that the process of the TLE withdrawal from Gudauta will be completed till the end of this year as envisaged by the Istanbul Joint Statement.

The Georgian position remains unchanged: the final state of the Russian military forces reduction process must be a complete liberation of the territory of Georgia from foreign military presence.

We count on the support of the EAPC Member States and consider that their active involvement in the process of implementation of the provisions of the Adapted CFE Treaty and agreements reached in Istanbul in 1999 would significantly contribute to its success.

In conclusion, allow me to state once again that Georgia, as a partner of the Alliance, will actively co-operate within the EAPC in the years to come.

Thank you.